I would like to be a...primary liaison co-ordinator

27th January 2006 at 00:00
Primary liaison. AKAI..

Secondary liaison, cross-phase liaison, transition co-ordinator. This is usually a secondary role, sometimes combined with the head of year role for Year 7, or with the curriculum co-ordinator's role for key stage 3.

Expect a lot of..

I meetings. One secondary school in Lancashire has 115 feeder primary schools; I hope whoever does primary liaison in that establishment gets a petrol allowance. At the very least this role should be about maintaining good communication with teachers and children in feeder primaries. In good systems it's about ensuring a smooth transfer for Year 6s who are often secretly terrified about the prospect of moving on to "big school". This usually involves lots of visits to the primaries, and in good secondary schools it might mean teacher exchanges, so that primary and secondary colleagues could learn a little about each other's practice.

Are you enthusiastic about..

Iprimary practice? To fill this role properly, you should be. It's enormously frustrating for Year 6 teachers, and pupils alike, when a secondary school ignores six years of teaching and adopts a blank slate approach to the curriculum. One nationally celebrated primary school found that its Year 6s, who handled professional graphic and video software with consummate ease, had, as their first experience of ICT in "big school", a blow-by-blow introduction to the QWERTY keyboard. If the Government's drive towards a personalised curriculum means anything it ought to mean the end of that kind of contempt for prior learning. Liaison should be about making sure that Year 7 teachers are fully aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the incoming Year 6s.

Are you good at..

I public relations? Because the annual event you will definitely have to organise is the school's open evening. This is about marketing the school.

It's where displays, smartly turned out children and a saturation of smiling teachers really count. Yours is the face that Year 6 parents and children are most likely to recognise. You are the one who will have to say diplomatic things about your neighbouring secondaries when parents ask difficult questions. "Is Dumpertruck secondary really as bad as they say?"

crafty parents will ask.

"I'm sure it's a very good school," you will reply.

Failure to stick to this policy will have the primary liaison at Dumpertruck retaliating in kind, and telling the truth about your establishment. And where would that lead?

Does it pay?..

It ought to. This should be a key role in any secondary school, where the standards issue of the day is the dip in achievement in Years 7 and 8.

Primary liaison is directly related to teaching and learning; it's a key element in raising achievement.

Secondary heads who have been attempting to divest liaison teachers of their management points as part of the teaching and learning responsibilities (TLRs) restructuring should consider their position very carefully.

In primaries, where transfer is more a matter of crossing fingers and hoping for the best, it may be that liaison is simply part of a Year 6 teacher's class responsibilities, in which case additional loot is unlikely.

Is it a good career move?

That depends. The answer is Yes if you are the child-friendly, curriculum-focused, data-driven teacher whose main role is to ensure that Year 7 children hit the ground running after the September transfer. This will be a great job and you will learn a great deal about children's development and learning.

The answer is No if primary liaison means trying to flog your school to local parents while paying lip service to the achievements of the local primary schools.

Is it safe?

Probably. But if falling rolls mean that your school is desperate for numbers you may find some pressure both from management and staff to drag the bodies in through the gates by any means at your disposal. "It's all about bums on seats, so go out and grab some," one headteacher told his bemused staff before an open evening.

The primary liaison in that school probably had some uncomfortable meetings with her head as she tried to reconcile her vision of the job as nurturing children through the transfer process, with his vision of a series of numbers in a spreadsheet.

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