The following article comes from Year 6 class teacher Toria Bono, who shares her top tips for a smooth school transition during lockdown.

The meaning of transition is ‘a period of changing from one state or condition to another’ and 2020 has truly been the year of transition. On January 1st, we welcomed the new year in and if you are anything like I am, you had hopes but didn’t expect any significant changes. A few months on and we were in lockdown. For education, that meant staff and pupils transitioning to online teaching and learning, whilst schools transitioned to become centres for key-worker children.

This transition for our young people must not be under-estimated. On Friday 20th March they said goodbye to their friends, their classes and their teachers – for most this would have seemed temporary, with the majority assuming they would be back to their old routines in a short space of time. They weren’t. Our young people didn’t get to finish this academic year with the staff and peers they began it with. They didn’t get to have the closure they always have done previously and they haven’t been able to prepare for the transition into their new year group in the way they previously have.

For Year 6 children ending their primary career and Year 11 children finishing their secondary career, there will be the loss of proms, concerts and end of year celebrations. These are all things that are seen as ‘rights of passage’ within our transition process and yet, for these children, they won’t be.

Many children in these year groups will be very happy about not having to take SATs, GCSEs and for Year 13’s A’Levels, however, many more will be disappointed that they didn’t have the opportunity to show what they could achieve. They will always be left wondering how they would have done.

This year, more than ever, we have to get transition right for all our young people, so that they are prepared and empowered for the next stage in their educational journey – but, how do we do that?

Tips for a smooth transition

In my school, each year group team has created a video for our current children where we share our favourite memories of the year with them and end with ‘see you soon’. This will be shared with the children on Google Classroom towards the end of the year. Tomorrow, I and all the other teachers will upload a video onto our new classes’ Google Classroom. On mine, I introduce myself to my new class, share pictures of their new classroom and reassure them that many things are exactly the same as in their previous class. Our videos are positive, upbeat and are our way of preparing children without actually being with them.

In our bubbles, we are discussing transition and really listening and acknowledging children’s worries and concerns. Dismissing these with ‘you’ll be okay’ doesn’t help anyone, especially not the child, so we are unpicking why they have these concerns and what can be done to alleviate them. We are also discussing the differences between primary and secondary school – by doing this they will be more prepared and aware.

We are discussing:

  • the fluidity of lunchtime in a secondary school;
  • working with lots of different teachers all of whom will have different personalities and expectations;
  • the new language of secondary schools including the word ‘timetable’;
  • what independence means and how it looks in secondary;
  • what they can do to prepare e.g. practising their journey to their new school;
  • managing friendships – both new and old.

In doing all of this, we are preparing our children for the next stage in their journey. They haven’t been able to visit the secondary schools, familiarise themselves with the buildings or some of the teachers but that doesn’t mean they can’t feel empowered. They can.

Yes, this year is different but we have learnt enough about transition up until now to know that good transition means listening, answering and preparing – regardless of the age or stage of the child. If we can help our young people to transition comfortably this year, then we truly are preparing them to be global citizens who will be able to sail life’s choppy seas without being sent adrift!

We just need to remind them and ourselves of Bob Marley’s great words:

“Don’t worry about a thing, ‘cause, every little thing is gonna be alright!”

Primary teacher Toria Bono

Author

Toria Bono

Toria Bono is a primary school teacher in the South East of England. Through her blog Teaching Others & Learning All The Time, she shares her experiences, opinions and lessons learned in the classroom. She also empowers other eduleaders on Twitter via the #TinyVoiceTuesday and #TinyVoiceTuesdayUnites hashtags.

Follow Toria on Twitter – @ToriaClaire