Are we asking children to grow up without a road map?

A little while ago I decided I wanted to start writing a blog. It felt like I had an awful lot to say about transition from KS2 to 3 and only a few characters in a tweet to get my ideas across.

I spent a long time trying to think about what to write about first, how to start it and of course, would anyone even care! The time of year seemed to be against me too. The pupils have already been in school for a term now, surely they are all settled and doing well? Well, of course for the majority of year 7 pupils, this is the case. But what about those for whom it’s not? How are they coping with the changes, which seem ongoing!

I realised that this time of year actually made me really reflect on my past experiences as a teacher and a leader responsible for transition and Key Stage 3. We forget that these little people (I still believe they are children! Barely 12 is a child in my eyes) have been asked to go through an awful lot of changes, and did I assume that by now they understood all of the new rules? So, why this time of year? Why do I think it now? Well as I watch my neighbours children heading off to school today I think back to my primary teaching days. The last day of term – Toy Day. I know some schools no longer have Toy Day for a number of reasons:

‘…stopped it as most children didn’t have anything to bring in’

‘..age appropriate play just doesn’t seem to exist anymore’ (I think that’s another blog just waiting to be written)

Other continue the tradition:

‘We do the last day before Christmas and summer……it works for us’

While for most this seems to have little to do with transition, I argue that for some, it is yet another reminder of how things have changed, but with no warning. Do we tell children that there is no toy day at secondary school? Do we chastise them if they ask to bring something in? Do we laugh with (or does it feel like, at?) them when they ask when Toy Day is? I am sure that for the staff in schools the answer to all of these questions is no, can we say the same about the children though? For many children bringing a toy to school on the last day of term is just something they have always done, so it stands to reason it would continue. Surely?

I am aware that something like Toy Day seems to be a very minor conversation point when it comes to transition but I see it as part of a much bigger picture. It’s yet another change in their normal school life that we teachers don’t warn them about. Of course we can’t begin to prepare every child for every change that is coming that they might not be aware of, but on reflection, do we really give them a detailed enough road map for their future?

Over the course of time that I hope to continue writing this blog I will be exploring a range of ways, pastoral and academic, that we can ensure a smooth transition from Key Stage 2 to Key Stage 3. Some will be original and others magpied from trusted sources. Either way, I hope that what I have to say creates pause for though if nothing else.