Now is the time of year when lots of settings begin to think about making arrangements for transition. When I was a Reception teacher it used to be two story swaps in the last week of term ! With the advent of the Foundation Stage and government training such as 'Continuing the Learning Journey' I assumed that practice would have moved on significantly. Although I have seen some excellent provision for 'transition', I have seen lots that amounts to little more than the story swaps!
The more I looked into the impact of transition as a Headteacher the more I became convinced that how children were moved to their new Key Stage had a huge impact not only on their emotional wellbeing but also their academic performance.
The scenario that is often painted for me by settings is that children have a lovely time playing in Reception but once they hit Year One there is only 5 terms till SATS! Yes, they are independent and yes, they can put their own straw in their own milk, but...if they had spent more time learning to write and less time playing in boxes and more time learning to write....
At this point can I just say that is NOT the guidance that had been given about how to approach transition! The guidence is that Year One should model Reception practice for at least the first term maintaining as many elements of it as it possibly can throughout the year!
Remember that a child is legally entitled to the National Curriculum the term after their 5th birthday so all children in Year One they are 'officially' National Curriculum children. Having said that, if you have a child who is not 'officially' National Curriculum but yet they are demonstrating bredth of understanding, skill and attainment across the Foundation Stage Curriculum then you would access the National Curriculum for next steps.
When I was a head, my Deputy (Lisa) invested a great deal of time and training looking into the impact of effective transition on the children (and staff) in our large 3-form entry Infant School.
The result was a very effective policy that brought together an understanding of child development, a committment to the value of a well taught FS curriculum and recognition that quality staff development was key to success.
The focus was not purely academic attainment, but a study of the impact on children's social and emotional wellbeing. When we are happy and settled we are open to learning. If we are anxious, unhappy or upset then we are closed and demotivated. No wonder learning suffers!
We used the Leuven scales of Well-being and Involvement to track the transition of 6 children in each school.
More info about the definition of Well-being and Involvement and an illustration of the scales in this publication by Fere Laevers.
- The children were first observed and scored at the end of the 3rd term in Reception.
- The Reception and Year One teachers scored the children together to ensure absolute agreement.
- The same children were scored again just after entry to Year One in September and then again every term until the end of Year One.
- The result of the scoring for this cohort was that most children's scores dropped (some significantly) on entry to Year One. Some children took a whole year to reach the scores they had attained at the end of Reception.
- For the year following this initial transition we worked together on putting in place as many elements of effective transitionas the school ethos, staffing situation, funding would allow.
- We based our initial actions on the existing policy that I had brought with me and we enhanced and tweaked it as we went along.
- A year later we performed the scoring task again on a new set of 6 Reception children who had been through a year of transition activities, teacher swaps and joint events.
- They were scored again on entry to Year One. Inevitably there was a tiny bit of slippage but most children at least maintained their score and in one setting the scores of some children increased!
- The results of this project have been published by Blackpool and sent into every school along with a copy of the final policy.
Many thanks to Sarah Lambert at Balckpool LA who has given me permission to attach it here if you would like to read it.
A copy of the policy in Word is available in the 'Resources' section of the blog.
You will see from some of the teacher's comments about the process that attainment actually increased in Year One as a result of fostering a well planned EYFS ethos linked to accurate assessment.
Give it a try...you never know!