What are the transition worries for Year 6 going into Year 7?

When we think back to our school days, it can often influence what we assume our pupils worry about when they think about school transition. We may assume the worry about bullying, or the work being too hard/easy, or struggling to find our way around secondary school when we suddenly have to change classrooms throughout the day. We may have concerns about detentions and isolation rooms and whether they will like the lunches or forget their lunch money.

Reassure not cause concern

In actual fact, what the pupils worry about in Year 6 about Year 7 transition is those things we forget. They do not have the hindsight we have, so they may not even have thought about many of these as they essentially ‘don’t know what they don’t know.’ This can make it hard to predict and iron out those potential road bumps. We do not want to unduly worry them but we do want them to be prepared.

One of the questions I used to see asked most by Year 6 children was

“I don’t even know which bus to get for that school”

and other such queries which we know, as adults, are quickly solved. But their worries usually didn’t get much deeper than that. Unless, that is, they have older siblings and those passed down worries could range from the realistic possibilities such as bullying issues, through to the wildly made-up urban legends passed down the generations!

What we know we cannot do, as primary teachers, is to prepare them all for every individual eventuality, as nothing is in our control when they leave us in July. Often what would be worrying for some, such as changing classrooms, is an absolute dream for those children who hate sitting in the same place all day.

When I have visited pupils in secondary schools their sense of what they were worried about is clearer with their hindsight of what actually happened, as they struggled to verbalise what made them nervous before the secondary transition. Essentially, they are nervous about change, as we all get when something big is about to change in our lives, but they have no idea what that will look like for them.

How long will it take for my new teachers to get to know me?

What matters, however, and really makes the difference for children, is how much information the secondary school has about them. That is much more controllable than what the child does or assumes. A secondary teacher has seen nervous Year 7s every year and knows how much they adapt and change over that first year. They have also seen how and when it may have gone wrong for some children and what they put in place to help.

Therefore, what matters is them using their professional judgement and expertise, alongside as much detail as the primary teachers can pass on, to pre-empt road blocks, problems and barriers and get every child off to a great start in September.

Knowing a child goes way beyond SATs

Quality information on each child goes well beyond SATs results. Those are useful for some lessons and areas, but do not tell a full picture.

They cannot, from results alone, see who got that result easily and who struggled and was supported a lot to get there. They also cannot tell what pastoral needs might be in place. They might see a great result but not know that the child’s parents divorced soon after the tests. They cannot see that the child who didn’t pass had, though, made 2 years’ worth of progress in 1 year due to amazing interventions which they could potentially continue into Year 7 to get them on a par with everyone else. They cannot see which children are working with outside agencies.

Jodie Lopez

Jodie is a guest contributor. Find out more about Jodie by visiting her website.
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