For many parents, the prospect of their 11-year-old setting off to secondary school can bring mixed feelings. It’s exciting to be moving on with such great opportunities unfolding but there is so much to navigate! Timetables, mobile phones, bags, buses and friendships are all part of this rite of passage. When it works well, the thrill of independence is a pleasure, but the journey is not always smooth. How should we best prepare our Year 6s? What needs to be considered for a smooth transition to Year 7 and beyond? All parents desire a successful secondary school experience for their child – so what is the best way to make sure that pupils get off to a flying start?
An effective “transition to secondary” programme is key for Year 6 children who are on the brink of greater independence. Beyond the need to ensure that pupils are confident and ready academically, there are key considerations relating to social and emotional development, mental health, personal organisation, and even good old common sense, all underpinning the likelihood of success. Once in Year 7, the prospect of becoming a teenager is not far off (some might even be a bit hormonal already!); a strong pastoral programme with plenty of time to discuss anxieties and issues related to personal development and friendships – led by excellent teachers – is therefore essential.
Pupils can also be helped by practical considerations: study skills, organisation and planning skills, IT intelligence and being shown how to take a measured and safe approach to social media, gaming and the internet. Crucially, it is important that children can listen to others, as well as voice their own opinions (publicly and privately), and enjoy discussion on a range of issues.
The Roche School are fortunate to have a Year 6 Centre in which they can give this special time of their lives the attention it needs, delivering a comprehensive and engaging transition programme. In addition to their academic and pastoral programme (plus the already embedded work around growth mindset and British Values), they offer Philosophy of Religion, presentation skills, internet safety, travel workshops and guest speakers (including alumni).
As their final day comes closer, they will have completed a first aid course, a PSHE unit on “The Wider World” (which covers enhanced independence) and a PSHE Association Approved Sex & Relationship Education scheme of work. The PSHE curriculum focusses on developing conviction and pride in individuality, and the more mature social skills and broader awareness that are needed for senior school. They also look at healthy friendships and romantic relationships, pathways to careers, addressing stereotypes and global citizenship.
Finally, a week-long PGL residential focusses on outdoor activities and team building, not to mention the building of happy memories. A theatre production sets the seal on the last days in Year 6 but after the farewells, they know that they will come back and tell us how well they are doing in Year 7!