It should be a ‘normal’ day for your 6 class today. You have it all planned, the lessons are going to be amazing, you are as planned as you’ll ever be and whats not to love about your job! You had a great day with the class yesterday and hopefully that will continue today. Then they arrive! Some are like bottles of pop, so excited that they have been offered their first choice school. Others gutted because they haven’t. The chatter in the playground is all about the schools they have been offered and try as you might to stop it, it comes spilling into the classroom.
The best thing to do here is embrace it! Give them their 10 mins of chatter and try to move on! Of course you all know that! This post is to try to show how else you can now start to support the children and their families through this emotional phase. Before we start though, hands up – who has the double whammy here? Who of you are yr 6 teachers/leaders who are also parents going through it all at home too? Has it changed your perspective yet, its tough’s isn’t it? Hopefully the earlier post gave you some ideas and pointers though.
I know it’s a busy time of year in school but hopefully some of the ideas I am going to share here will be of interest to you and will (fingers crossed) help the children stay a little bit more focused and maybe even more so! If you have seen the TES recently you might have seen that a good friend and fellow transition geek of mine, Ellie Grout, (https://groutysguide.co.uk/) and I have started to write a column about transition. Hopefully this blog goes into a little bit more detail about things that we have been discussing there.
- Listen to the what the children are saying. Not for one minute am I suggesting that you don’t usually do this but at this emotionally charged period of time you need the ‘read between the lines’ skill more than ever. What are they saying about the school they are going to go to? Is there a hidden agenda in this? Are they talking about it more/less than you would expect? Does this need some friendly ‘digging’? We all know children bottle up their emotions if they don’t understand them. Are they less focused than usual? This could well be linked to the upcoming move for, all sorts of reasons, that I probably need to write a book about! I think the key thing here is to find out how they are feeling, help them work out why and support them to work through it. I can imagine that at such a busy period it’s easy to forget that the announcement of ‘Big School’ can have such a profound impact on a child.
- Invite the secondary schools in to meet the children ASAP. I know, I know you are far too busy at this time of year to take some time out of lessons for the secondary schools to meet the children. You haven’t got the time to spare. I disagree. At the time when you really need to pupils to be focused and on the ball, a good idea is to give them an opportunity to talk to their new secondary school. If your children are going to a range of schools it may be that only your main partner schools are able to come. I would suggest that even speaking to staff from a different secondary school can help put their mind at ease. Although all secondary schools are very different, what they all have in common is that they are even more different to your school. Benefits of having the children speak to their secondary school sooner rather than later include:
- It will highly likely put their mind at ease, helping them focus on their studies!
- Finding out that the harder they work now, the more successful they can become at secondary school. I know you tell them this but as with most things, they believe a stranger! This should help them focus on their studies!
- Its a long way off but the earlier they can meet some staff from their new school the more confident they will become about the move and this level of confidence should help them focus on their studies.
- Share curriculum maps with your partner schools. The first thing a child tells a foundation subject teacher at secondary school is that they have never studied their subject before! It happens every year, in every class! How wonderful it would be for that teacher to be able to say, ‘actually I know you studied X,Y or Z in year 6. Tell me what you remember!’ It is amazing how many children remember their learning when they are giving a gentle nudge. This will ensure that your amazing teaching hasn’t gone to waste and the children are able to move forward. If you were able to go one step further and actually plan with some of your school that would be even better, again there’s another book waiting to be written! If the children know their secondary schools know what they have been learning then this should help them focus on their studies.
- Hold coffee mornings for parents/carers and the secondary schools. I know it feels a little bit like you are doing the family liaison for the secondary schools by offering this but it can a huge support for all. We all know how hard it is to engage some parents in primary school. Multiply this by 100 and you have the secondary experience! Your school and staff are absolutely the best people to help families cope with the changes that are heading their way and to help them forge new relationships as soon as possible to smooth the pathway for the children.
I know it is very easy for me to suggest these things. I hope though, that they are mostly quick wins that shouldn’t take up too much of your curriculum time but will most certainly make a difference to the children in your care during a period of huge upheaval for them.