Induction V’s Transition

There is a difference and it is huge.

Photo by Burak The Weekender on

I have often tried to differentiate between Induction and Transition. In one of those lightbulb moments recently I thought of the simplest way to explain this differentiation, so here it is:

  • Induction is place.
  • Transition is person.

Both have a really important role in the move from one phase of learning to the next but they do have very different parts to play and need different approaches!

Induction is about place. The physical changes that will be affected by the move from one phase to another. The buildings, the rules, the timetable etc. Schools are really good at induction process. The opportunity for children to visit the school prior to September, meet the staff and start to get an understanding of what the new environment looks like. Primary schools support this process well, understandably more so after SATs, although secondary schools often prefer to begin as close to notification day as possible. Between May and September schools work particularly hard to offer as much support as possible to the children prior to and soon after the move from Primary to Secondary school, this can be quite intense for the children. Especially considering that this follows a particularly intense period of SATs preparation and exam sitting and of course the emotional upheaval that comes with this time of their live and the added pressures of navigating their way around the new systems and relationships that come in year 7. Although this post is focused on moving from Key Stage 2 to 3 the idea of Induction V Transition applies to all other transitions too. From EYFS right through to FE to HE. Induction between these phases had been traditionally strong but can the same be said for quality Transition?

Transition does not rely on knowing exactly where the child will be moving to. The skills that need to be learned and developed will take time to hone. They need to be considered years before the move and will continue to be developed, sometimes years after the move. Think about the children in your care right now. Are they emotionally ready to make the move if you are in a primary setting? Are they coping with the changes that they are going through if you are secondary focused? I have worked with children in the past from as young as year 3 or 4 who have been identified by schools as needing a lot of support to prepare then for the move to secondary school but the ‘work’ to do this still doesn’t begin until around March of year 6 once the notification date has passed and there can be some development work between the two schools. Equally I have met and taught many year 7, 8 and even yr. 9 pupils who haven’t quite got to grip with the skills, including social that ensures they are successful in Key Stage 3. If they do not meet those needs during this phase they will almost certainly struggle to be ready for the pressures of Key Stage 4.

Transition should also be about the curriculum. The National Curriculum moves quite seamlessly though 4 Key Stages and yet the teachers delivering this rarely have even a basic understanding of the contents of phases above or below if not taught in the school in which they are based. If transition between phases is to be truly successful then the curriculum needs to be considered as well as the needs of the children. The wonderful Emma Turner summed this up beautifully at TransitionEd 2022 when she reminded us that the only constant in any curriculum is the child!

Induction V Transition

Another really simple way to sum this up came from a group of children I once spoke to following their move to year 7. When talking about the Induction days (notice I don’t call them Transition days) the children told me they had a fantastic time. They met lots of teachers and took part in some really exciting lessons. They were shown around and felt safe as they were escorted from lesson to lesson and lunch etc. This was a really successful Induction Day. However, they also reported that these days did not prepare them for the daily life of secondary school. They reported that the lessons they had as part of their daily routine were no longer fun (sorry! Out of the mouths of babes though) and having been escorted everywhere for the first visit, they were left to their own devices once September came and they all of a sudden felt very overwhelmed – this is where the Transition should have kicked in. Preparing the children for these emotional changes and experiences so that they can focus on the physical changes and ongoing support once they arrive in Key Stage 3 to ensure success.

Think about the current practise in your school. Are you supporting Induction or Transition? Watch this space for ideas about how to develop both Induction and Transition processes in schools.