For the love of transition:where it all began.

Yamina Bibi-Lead Practitioner

This blog was originally published on http://www.msybeebs.wordpress.com

Shattered dreams

Since the age of ten, I knew that I was destined to work as a primary school teacher. Or so I thought. I knew nothing else. When I wasn’t in school, I loved playing ‘school’ with my younger siblings. My eldest sister, who was already working as a teacher, told us brilliant stories about her day and my parents insisted teaching was the most rewarding job in the world.

I was desperate to be a teacher as soon as possible and I did everything I could to build my experience once I was old enough. I completed my secondary school work experience in a primary school; I volunteered in primary schools and worked as a tutor during my years as an undergraduate student.

But then, during my final year at university, I had a realisation. I loved my subject. I did not know anything about maths or science or art but I loved learning about 18th century literary England, post-colonial literature and my beloved Shakespeare.

And so, going against family tradition, I became a secondary school English teacher. It was, of course, the best decision I made. Not only because I loved teaching my subject and sharing it with young people, but because I was discovering how difficult it was to be a primary school teacher.

The challenge of primary school curriculum

Interestingly (or maybe not), I have spent my life surrounded by primary school teachers: my three sisters, my friends and even my husband work in the early years and primary sector. This has given me a deeper understanding and insight into what the primary curriculum expects young children to achieve. Now, at the end of it all, 11 year olds are expected to know and learn and apply knowledge in tests I would find a challenge.

This knowledge was all well and good but I wanted to see it in practice and share it with colleagues so that we could really challenge the KS3 students we taught.

And so, two years ago, after a fantastic CPD session on transition delivered by a primary school colleague, I spoke to my line manager about contacting local primary schools to begin strengthening transition links.

Below are some ways we began to bridge the gap between KS2 and KS3 and the impact this has had on Teaching and Learning.

Last academic year

Collaborating with the Maths Lead Practitioner, I contacted one school and asked them if they would be happy to share resources such as Schemes of Learning; this would help us learn more about the primary school curriculum. In turn, we delivered some subject specific booster sessions to Year 6 students. At the end of the year, we had two primary school colleagues deliver another enlightening twilight session on the topic of transition sharing curriculum ideas and strategies.

This academic year

Through the power of Twitter, I have made links with local primary schools colleagues such as Jonny Walker. Below are some of the ways we have developed the transition project:

  • I set up a ‘Teaching and Learning transition team’ consisting of teachers from the core subjects (to begin with) to help drive transition across the curriculum.
  • We organised to observe teaching of reading, writing, maths and science lessons in three local primary schools. This enabled us to better understand the starting point for Year 7 students and also have clarity of the different ways the primary curriculum was delivered in KS2. For example, while one school delivered a traditional curriculum, another delivered a creative curriculum.
  • Through observations, members of the transition team have not only amended their own T &L but have shared their knowledge within their departments. This had led to important changes to the KS3 curriculum.
  • Primary colleagues have observed teaching of core subjects in KS3 to gain a deeper understanding of how specific subjects are taught at KS3.
  • We have connected subject leads in primary schools with secondary subject specialists to enhance the knowledge and skills of primary school teachers.
  • Last week, we organised a twilight CPD session on transition which included a mini TeachMeet. A range of speakers from the primary and secondary sector shared ideas on how we could continue to build transition links. The transition coordinator also requested SOLs from primary colleagues, which were shared with curriculum areas. Using these as a starting point, colleagues were asked to amend their Year 7 schemes of learning to ensure it built on prior knowledge and challenged all learners.

It has been an incredibly exciting year for KS2/ 3 transition and I hope that it will continue to be a central focus for schools to ensure challenge for all of our young people.