In most primary schools, Year 6 children go up to their secondary induction days looking bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. But while some return excited and ready to go, the majority spend the next morning telling you all about the detentions, older children, mountains of homework and how worried they are about making the jump.
My current class had it even tougher: my school only recently opened its KS2 provision, so my class had no previous Year 6 class to guide them as to how to prepare, what to do, or how to act.
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I decided that something needed to be put into place to help them understand what being secondary-ready meant and what we ended up with is a model that had a hugely positive impact: a Secondary Week.
Transition to secondary school
I pitched the idea as a week in which children would work in different classrooms across the school, with different staff, doing different subjects throughout the day, as if they were on a secondary timetable. Thankfully, my headteacher said we should go for it.
Everyone really got behind the idea from the start: both TAs and teachers were given the option to take a lesson, while I covered their class or role during that time. It was a win-win: not only were the children having a learning experience, but staff had the opportunity to teach in a year group, or subject, that they hadn’t before.
With the logistics set, each child was given a timetable that told them where, and when, they needed to be in every lesson. An example of a day is as follows:
Science – bicarbonate of soda and vinegar experiments
Double history: a discovery lesson about the Titanic
English: writing stories using suspense.
We had detention slips that showed a child when their behaviour would warrant one at secondary for, for example, disruptive behaviour, not being prepared for lessons or not completing their homework.
Homework at secondary
Alongside this, we also had commendation slips for children who really embraced the week and did their absolute best within lessons.
Meanwhile, each teacher had the option of setting homework and giving children a due date so that they could get used to managing their own workload and working to a deadline.
How did it go?
Initially, children were nervous about starting their timetable but by the end of the first day, they were feeling enthusiastic, positive and excited about the rest of the week.
By the end of their experience, the class were feeling much more prepared for their transition period and induction days.
We followed the week up with some Year-7-ready lessons in class (focused around organisation, resilience, independence etc), which, combined, left the children feeling confident and ready to move on to the next stage of their educational journey.
We got some great feedback from the children who took part via a small survey I got them to complete. Every child who took part stated that they felt much more prepared for secondary.
We can’t wait to implement this again next year.