Smoothing the Primary-to-Secondary transition

Published on: 23 Jun 2017

Transition to a new school is one of the biggest changes to occur in many children’s lives, and helping students with this transition was a key topic discussed at GSHA conferences in the last fortnight

Smoothing the Primary-to-Secondary transition

Grammar schools have been a topic of much discussion and debate of late, and although plans for any expansion of selection were notably absent from the recent Queen’s Speech, grammar schools, like any other school, are busy getting on with the crucial job of dealing with day to day issues affecting their pupils. This was amply illustrated in the recent meetings of headteachers and deputies from grammar schools across the country at conferences hosted by the Grammar School Heads’ Association. Topics from pupil mental wellbeing to social inclusion and transition were discussed and debated, with case studies demonstrating ideas being implemented.

Innovative practice is always refreshing to hear at conferences, and a big take away for me was Townley Grammar School’s work to help their pupils. Desmond Deehan, Headteacher, impressed me with their use of counsellors and their very own therapy dog. Our own Shane Rae recently wrote this blog discussing the challenges schools face in dealing with the mental health of their students, and work to highlight the issue will help towards the goal of ‘parity of esteem’, where mental health is seen as just as important as physical health.

No doubt teacher and student minds are already turning to plans for the summer months, especially given the recent balmy weather and end of term fast approaching. As well as enjoying well-earned breaks at home and abroad, these same minds will also soon be grappling with thoughts of a new term and, for many, a new school. Transition to a new school is one of the biggest changes to occur in many children’s lives, and helping students with this transition was a key topic discussed at GSHA conferences in the last fortnight. A recent article in Teach Secondary on transition from our Chief Executive, Greg Watson, highlighted some of the issues surrounding transition. Our report on the subject, entitled Pupil Attitudes to Self and School, highlighted a marked shift in attitudes from Year 7 students to Year 9, with declining positive attitudes towards schools, teachers and attendance illustrating challenges for all schools, including grammars.

As a former secondary teacher myself, I know that there is precious little time in the school day for reflection on issues such as those discussed at GSHA’s conferences. The summer break affords us the chance to consider current practice and how best we can identify and help those students most in need. Events such as the upcoming Research Ed National Conference, of which we are proud to be main sponsors, will also shed light on good, evidence-based work being carried out across the country and give us all, grammar school or otherwise, opportunities to improve education for every child.

By David Hilton, Business Development Manager, GL Assessment

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