Saturday, 20 October 2007

High School Transition

Jim Knight, the Schools Minister, has said that schools must focus on managing the transition between primary and secondary level and provide parents with opportunities to learn about their children's education. He said the measures were necessary to prepare current Year 6 pupils for the 14-19 reforms. They will be the first cohort to benefit from the full package of vocational diplomas in 2013.

The paper also features an interview with Andrew Russell, the headteacher of Wyvern Community College in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset. He reorganised his Year 7 curriculum after his staff spent a day in a local primary school.

"I gained a lot from my own day in a Year 6 class. Most of that was similar to what others noted, including the strength and depth of the relationship between the teacher and the class and how that was used as a mini-timeout when the class became restless after an hour of numeracy. I was also amazed at how they managed to stay focused for long periods on different activities. Finally, the amount of independence and 'freedom' to go off to various parts of the school to get on with work was revealing, especially when compared with the relatively little we used to give Year 7s.

"We restructured our school day to reduce the number of teachers seen by pupils in a day and to remove one lesson changeover. We restructuied the curriculum in Year 7 to reduce the number of teachers and lessons. Instead of having separate history, geography, RE and PSHE teachers, we now have just one humanities teacher to cover those four subjects for each class. We also combined English and drama.

"We set up a 'competency'-based curriculum focusing on common skills used across the curriculum and we have planned curriculum enrichment weeks throughout the year.

"In addition, to help make Year 7 feel like a 'school within a school' we gave them their own toilets, locker space and social area for break and lunchtimes. The impact seems to be a smoother transition, with the students feeling very settled far more quickly than we have found in previous years."

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