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New pupils settle in with a sleepover

Murder-mystery days and sleepovers are among the ways Welsh secondary schools help Year 7 pupils settle in.

Positive comments on homework and pupil self-assessment were also flagged up as techniques to put new pupils at ease and improve their confidence, at a conference last week on improving transition.

More than 100 teachers from Welsh schools shared good practice in drawing up transition plans - which must be in place by September 2007. The plans are intended to reverse the traditional decline in academic standards when children move from primary to secondary.

Teachers from Swansea valley's Ysgol Gyfun Cwmtawe said a "star pack" which encourages wider reading was helping tackle below-par standards in literacy among new arrivals.

Rhian James, head of Year 7 at Ysgol Gyfun Gwynllyw in Pontypool, Torfaen, told how weekend sleepovers at the school in the summer term helped new pupils make friends and get to know their surroundings.

And at Brynna primary in Rhondda Cynon Taff, pupils can say if they do not understand something at end-of-lesson circle time.

Deputy head Mark Thompson said the school also uses a "traffic light"

system: pupils who are stuck place a red light made from paper on their table, to attract the teacher's attention.

At bilingual Aberaeron comprehensive in Ceredigion, KS3 co-ordinators visit primary schools in March, and in May pupils are given a science lesson to familiarise themselves with laboratories.

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