An idea born from sparks of inspiration between a Derbyshire Primary and Secondary School…
The William Allitt School is a Specialist College for the Performing Arts and Science for 11 – 16 year olds based in Newhall, Swadlincote; a specialist Performing Arts and Science School.
Quote from Mr Crossley (head teacher) – ‘This area of our developing Learning Platform has been extremely valuable, enabling Year 6 students to get a picture of life here. It has been recognised by the local authority as innovative and effective in its use. I am looking forward to its continued development as a valuable resource for transition from our feeder primary schools to life at The William Allitt School.’
Eureka Primary School a mixed Primary School for 4-11 year olds based in Midway, Swadlincote; an ECO school.
Quote from Mrs Hambleton (head teacher) – ‘As members of the teaching profession we are always looking for new and inspirational ways of engaging the young people of tomorrow. Engaging them before they even enter their next learning environment must surely be for the best. Transition has always been an issue for schools, and as we believe in doing everything possible to aid that process, KLP will make that change much easier!’
The idea was initiated from one of our early adopter cluster meetings, with discussions on how and why we would want to use the learning platform within the cluster… for inter-school communication; cross-phase support; encouraging the continued engagement with KLP at secondary; to ease settling in…
One of the main reasons that Primary and Secondary communicate is to deal with transition of year 6 into year 7 and we felt – if possible – this would be a great place to start.
Initially, it was felt that we possibly needed a whole new site for this; however, after some deliberation we felt that a simple Interest Space dedicated to this may be sufficient…it proved to be so!
Video of year 7 Battle of Hastings...
Exciting footage, engaging the users immediately!
Slide show of participating schools
The William Allitt and Eureka agreed to be ‘guinea pigs’ and trial such a space! Great fun it has been too!
Glyn Jackson – chief technician at William Allitt – offered to create the initial Interest Space and liaise with their Year 7 team in order to populate the site with some useful information.
During the cluster meeting ideas for what the site should contain and offer was discussed, one of which was ‘Where’s Basil?’
One of the main worries about secondary school that any year 6 pupil has is getting lost…hence the need for ‘Where’s Basil?’ Not just a map! To engage the children it needed to be interactive; it offers a map of the school, with ‘hot spots’ linked to various photographs of rooms at the school, using clues to guide the children to them with a view to locating Basil! When Basil is located, an on screen CONGRATULATIONS! Message from Basil himself appears. Basil is the ICT mascot. Most Primary schools have mascots, so it would be something that the children could relate to. It was thought that he would be an ideal character to engage the future year 7’s as they enter secondary school life. One of Eureka’s year 6 in particular loved it and it became a race between her and Mrs Johnson as to who would locate Boris first!!
Quotes from children:
‘It’s great to be able to talk to a child who is already there!’
‘I feel more confident about going already!’
‘Basil is so cute! ‘Where’s Basil’ is great fun!’
‘It’s nice to have children that are there answering my questions.’
‘I want to be a year 7 buddy next year!’
Also on the Interest Space, the year 6 children from the primary feeder schools have the opportunity to ask questions, share worries and excitements with the year 7 buddies from William Allitt, to support them in transition.
Mr Jackson basically put out a note to all year 7 forms asking for volunteers to help with the transition project, the first response resulted in over 50 interested parties coming forward (this was far too many to handle!). Great to see such enthusiasm however!
A lunchtime meeting, wheedled out the not so committed, and a promise of involvement in other projects helped him to whittle down the team to around 20.
As well as answering the year 6 questions, in discussions, the year 7’s have also used a wiki library to document their memories of their first year at secondary school.
Another real plus for this is that eventually, as the site develops over time…the year 7 buddies will be known to the new year 6’s…and discussing the ‘scary event’ with someone they know will hopefully help this experience to become as smooth as possible.
o Year 6 having access to the site until Christmas (as year 7’s)
o Clear out old discussions and memories so that the new year 6’s will see the space afresh
o Blogs created for year 7 to document their memories of the year – this will replace the wiki that was set up initially.
o Creating additional content following feedback from current year 6 eg. Providing a typical timetable, equipment lists, uniform, Home learning expectations, examples of learning that year 7 may bring, topics to be covered…
o Engage the year 6 and year 7 teachers as early as September
Not all primary schools currently have access – due to:
Ø some not having had KLP provisioned yet
Ø some not having had training yet
Ø some having poor internet access
Ø SATs – some year 6 teachers unable to commit time until afterwards
Ø Not being able to acquire information from year 7 staff and secondary school SMT.
Ø Not being able to get year 7 staff involved.
Ø The need to ensure that the other 2 secondary schools can provide a similar service to aid transition to the students that will be going to their schools – this has been impossible this first year.
Hints and Tips
§ Create a staffroom discussion so that year 6 and 7 staff can discuss in private any requirements or problems.
§ Start small and build/add content on a regular basis.
§ Keep it fresh and interactive.
§ Staff interacting and responding to requests so that you provide the information that the children want
§ Share with children regularly initially so that they get accustomed to it and interact with them yourselves
It is hoped that the site engages the Partner Primary schools long before they arrive, so as to remove apprehensions about moving up, to create stronger links between the schools, to allow the pupils to make friends with older students. If they feel more secure about entering secondary school, then surely they will settle quicker, engage with their learning from the word go and therefore achieve more…it may do something to alleviate the summer holiday ‘slump’!
Restyling the model
Infant to Junior
Early Years to KS1
Secondary to VI form/college…
I am sure that the model we have instigated will be very easily restyled to fit into these and any other transition needs as you see fit. I am sure that the principle and the benefits will be pretty much the same. Whatever we, as teachers can do to support the movement of our pupils from one learning zone/site to another will surely do nothing more than build on and assist with their learning, engage them and allow them to become even more ready to go out and face the ever increasing technological age we are all becoming accustomed to.