Transition to a new school:
Nursery to Reception Class (FS1 - FS2)
Leaving preschool behind and entering Reception is a big step for children.
When four-year-olds set off for their first day at ‘big school’, they should be full of positive emotions – excitement, confidence and happiness. This happens if they know exactly where they are going, who will be there, what they will be able to do when they get there and how long they : will be staying there. A successful transition means children settle quickly into school, learning and developing from day one.
Before children officially start 'Big School, we aim to make sure that:
● school staff get know each child, including their interests and needs during play sessions in the summer term;
● the school is able to meet these interests and needs through discussions with parents and nurseries;
● school staff have started to form a relationship with each family;
● children know, and like, the school staff;
● children are familiar and happy with their new school environment, its routines and expectations;
● children have met and made friends with some of the other children who will be in their class.
Getting to know new children
Visit the preschools: Most children attend a preschool setting and practitioners there will know them very well; therefore to help us get to know your child, our staff visit them in their preschool and see them operating in an environment that they know, with staff that they trust. In the summer term, the Reception teachers from Whiston Junior and Infant School spend much of their PPA time going to visit children in their preschools. Obviously the more settings that feed into our Reception class, the more complicated this becomes.
If we cannot visit all the children, we ring the preschools to discuss the children, and if they say we would benefit from coming to see a particular child, then we make the effort to do so. At the visit, before the child knows who we are, we observe them to assess their social skills, independence, confidence, language and physical ability. After about 20 minutes, we have a good picture of the child and can then play with them for a while, having some fun so that they have a happy first impression of us. We take along a little booklet about school, with lots of photos to share and leave with the child – this can then be a focus for discussions and excitement in the weeks leading up to the transition. Finally we spend time talking to the key person and looking at any records or ‘special books’.
Play sessions in school: Not always straightforward to organise, but very important, are play sessions in the Reception class during the summer term. We encourage children and their parents to visit and stay and play for an hour at a time, with a few of their friends. This allows the children a chance to explore their new class and to meet some of the staff and children who will be coming to school with them.
Before the children arrive…
Information gathered from the preschools, the families, the child and observations give Reception staff a good picture of the new group of children. They can then prepare the environment to ensure that every child will have a wide choice of activities, and also that routines and expectations are established from day one. For example, coat pegs, self-registration, resource storage and labels must all be ready so that routines can be taught on the first day.
No matter how well the teachers know the children, the actual induction period must be carefully planned to ensure children remain happy and confident. In September, children will be invited to start school for either a morning or afternoon sessions. This model also means that in the vital first few days, we have a maximum of 15 children in class with all the staff, meaning the children get quality adult attention and that routines and expectations are established immediately. It also means that staff get to know the children well enough that initial assessments are completed with confidence.
Parents also play a crucial part during the induction period. We encourage them to stay with their child for as long as necessary and they help teach the routines too. This is especially valuable for children with English as an additional language as the parent can translate the messages from the staff.
As described, by the time the children arrive for their first day at school, we already have a relationship with them and their families, and the children are already familiar with the school. Therefore, many settle immediately and the parents are able to leave them within minutes. A few children may need a parent with them a little longer and we accommodate this for as long as necessary. Eventually, we will make the decision, along with the parent, that they should leave. The most important aspect of this decision is that it is made jointly with the parents and also that the child is aware of what is happening.
The final aspect of transition is to decide when the children should stay full time. Rather than have a set timetable for this, we treat each child as an individual and decide in partnership with their parent or carer, what is appropriate for their child.
Primary School to Secondary School (Y6 - Y7)
Moving from primary school to secondary school is an exciting time of life, but for many children it can also be a daunting prospect.
A new, much bigger school can offer greater independence, such as the first smart phone, and a world of opportunity. However it also means new teachers, new subjects and potentially a whole new set of friends.
To support with this process, our Y6 teachers plan many activities to give children opportunities to discuss their thoughts and share any concerns. We invite the partner schools into Whiston to meet and chat with the children and also the secondary schools often invite children to visit in the summer term.
Our Y6 teachers and SENCO (if appropriate), also meet with their secondary counterparts to discuss individual childen's assessments and needs as well as discussing their strengths and personality traits. In order to support a smooth transition for all our children as they turn the page onto the next chapter of their school life.
Click on the links below for further ideas to support your child:
Transition to a new class
As with moving on to a new school, moving up to the next year group can also be a little overwhelming for some children and exciting for others. We use the similar principles as above to support a smooth transition by ensuring that in the summer term, we plan a series of transition sessions/days when children visit their new classes and meet their new teaching staff. Children also start a transition topic, which they carry on with in the first week back in September. We have found this style of planning really beneficial for all returning children in September.