No two children are the same. Every unique part of them makes them who they are. Their skills and struggles, their passions and dislikes, their hobbies and activities, their interests and the things they have no interest in at all.
There are many arguments for and against SATs testing, and we are not here to debate that today, but in a world where they do exist we do wonder how to pass on more of the nuance about each child to the secondary school. Information which goes past SATs results. It is interesting to contemplate the information we like to hand over at transition and how it might support their move to secondary school.
For some children the context of their SATs results is really important. I have taught children who took SATs shortly after arriving in the country, others who have taken SATs in the midst of parental break-ups. I have supported children who have recently lost a dear family member or pet but who still want to show all they have learnt over the years. That context is so important to explain some results. Sometimes they show why a child may not have done as well as expected. In other cases I just want to say “Look how well they did despite what was going on!!”
For some children their personality really stands out. Sometimes for all the right reasons and sometimes not! In a primary setting it is easy to spend time figuring out the personalities of all children, including those who do not stand out at all and often seem to blend into the background. All of those differences help us to know how to handle each of the personalities in a way which works for the classroom and also helps that child to embrace their own uniqueness and harness their potential. This kind of information can be invaluable to secondary teachers who do not often have the time to get to know each individual. Imagine being able to pass on all those little notes on what works for a particular child.
As much as we wish it was not the case, there are some children we have real difficulties with. This could be for a number of reasons. In some cases it is as simple as a personality clash and it means it takes us more time to settle into a good relationship. For others there are underlying issues and possibly behaviour challenges which take us a while to get sorted out to help them, and the rest of the class, to learn. Once we get that relationship which works and we see the impact on their learning, we can start to worry that when they go up to secondary school they may go back to their old ways and that may have a long lasting impact. Those are the children, for me, who I most want to give information about for secondary school as it is heart breaking if that child goes to secondary school, and you later hear they “went off the rails” for a while. It is not always that easy, of course, but a good transition can be life changing in some cases. A chance to get things right from day 1. Especially for the children who need good relationships the most.
Some children really struggle with friendships with their classmates and this can then carry into secondary school, or affect their confidence in all areas. When you have seen a child struggle to keep friends and then see one friendship blossom, it can be worrying if you know that friendship may end at secondary school. Although keeping the friends together is not always possible, due to streaming or setting by ability and other practical elements, the information on how they did common ground can help secondary schools to pair them with similar children for any buddy schemes in Year 7.
There are children who more obviously need help and support with transition – where SEND is involved, for example, or looked after children. But many children have something which could make transition a ‘make or break’ situation and it is always a good feeling when there is good communication between feeder primary schools and their secondaries to ensure a transition as unique as each child is.
Jodie is a guest contributor.
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