Shock of the new school;PrimarySecondary transfer

Bibi Berki

THE building is cavernous, the teachers terrifying and the older children push your head down the toilet. The myths of going up to "big school" can sour the summer holiday before a pupil's first secondary term.

Parents are concerned about the psychological difficulties their children face in the transition. The Government is worried about the academic fall-out which occurs in the move up to Year 7.

Many schools carry out induction days for Year 6 pupils but one school in the Midlands has gone considerably further.

The Joseph Leckie School in Walsall is thought to be the first in the country to use after-school clubs to address the problem. It transports Year 6 pupils from the two nearest junior schools on a weekly basis and holds classes with the visiting children and a number of its own Year 7s.

The Bright Sparks Club, involving around 30 pupils a week is now in its second year.

The pilot, set up by the Community Education Development Centre in Coventry, has been monitored by the Department for Education and Employment and will now be copied by other schools.

Biology teacher Jo Davies, who helps run the scheme, says: "You always notice when the Year 7 kids come in. It's a whole new way of life for them. If you can make it easier for them socially to settle in then, in my opinion, they will find it easier academically as well."

The primary children (from nearby Delves and Whitehall junior schools) mix with older children in an undaunting atmosphere. The older ones get a taste of responsibility.

Sandra Toppin, whose Year 6 daughter Nadine has been taking part, says she has perceived a big difference. "She's learnt geography methods and English. She's told me about home economics, working in teams and science and chemistry apparatus. She's hungry to learn."

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Bibi Berki

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