Why we developed SixIntoSeven
In June and July 2020, primary and secondary schools across the UK are using SixIntoSeven to help manage their Year 6 into Year 7 transition. SixIntoSeven is a time-saving transition data portal developed in partnership with school leaders, in response to Covid-19 school closures.
Primary specialist Tiffnie Harris from the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) spotted the potential gap in pupil data when it was announced in March 2020 that KS2 SATSs would not take place. We spoke to Tiffnie about how she worked with Headteachers, colleagues from ASCL and EdTech firm askEddi to develop a way to let schools pass on vital pupil information in these challenging circumstances.
What is SixIntoSeven?
SixIntoSeven is an online data portal which plugs the gaps left by Covid-19 prevention measures and the closure of schools in spring 2020.
SixIntoSeven allows teachers from primary schools to quickly and securely pass academic information to secondary schools in the absence of usual primary testing or teacher assessments.
The focus is on skills in English and maths, as these skills can also support many aspects of the full secondary timetable of subjects at Key Stage 3. SixIntoSeven does not use the language of a primary National Curriculum. It is based on language that both primary and secondary teachers understand – rather like a professional ‘chat’.
It is an emergency response developed to a high standard in a remarkably short timescale. Vital information is passed on quickly to support, amongst many more, lesson planning, curriculum tweaking, early identification of intervention needs and focus on the disadvantaged.
We know that the disadvantage gap will widen following the closure of school in Spring 2020, and SixIntoSeven is one solution (amongst many) that schools will need to embrace to give all children the best possible opportunities given the circumstances. As much early information about a child’s learning as possible is key to the success of the child in the future.
Why do schools need it?
There is nothing like this already available to schools.
The Covid-19 pandemic necessitated the removal of primary school teacher assessments and statutory testing means no KS2 test results this year. As a result, it will be more difficult for secondary schools to gain quick and easy academic insight into the pupils who will arrive into Year 7.
Pastoral support will be vital when children return to school, and more so as a child joins a different, larger school with teachers they do not know. The impact of the Covid-19 means that, more than ever before, there is a need for teachers to focus on supporting pupils, talking, listening, nurturing, introducing structures of the school day, taking time to look after their welfare.
SixIntoSeven helps to remove the need for schools to benchmark test Year 7 pupils as soon as they arrive because information is passed from the primary school. It will give Year 7 teachers enough information on what a child has learnt at primary level to allow them to plan vital next steps, without a test.
The process also recognises the excellent teaching and learning that takes place in primary schools that can support the next stages of a child’s learning journey. It will prevent children from treading water while being taught things they already know.
What led to the development of SixIntoSeven?
The cancellation of teacher assessments and statutory testing for Year 6 pupils was confirmed early on by the Department for Education. My job working with primary schools and my background as a head of department in a secondary school meant I could already see in March that transition information from an academic perspective would be a missing link in supporting a child’s learning journey in September.
After discussion with the initial pilot group of primary and secondary school leaders, it became very clear that they not only agreed that this would be a problem, but saw this as a vital step. Secondaries really needed information that they could understand, quickly, and primary leads who already knew so much about their year 6 pupils could really see the importance of passing that knowledge to another professional.
Something had to be done. Our tag line ‘”One professional to another for the benefit of the child” emerged as we discussed our principles.
We moved on to workshops with the pilot group of head teachers to map out how schools would make a list of professional judgements for each child in their year 6 classes, and then send these securely to secondary schools.
Working with head teachers from both primary and secondary schools we found a common language to describe whether progress in key areas had been achieved and settled on a gut-feeling judgement of “secure” or “not secure”. This judgement would be drawn from the Year 6 teacher’s in depth knowledge of the pupils, taken on the eve of lockdown.
What comes next for SixIntoSeven?:
Schools all over the country are now up and running with SixIntoSeven. The crucial next steps are that Secondaries invite and encourage their network of primaries to sign up. This really is a school-led initiative and the only way it will work is if the secondaries are able to emphasise how crucial this piece of work will be to the ongoing progress and wellbeing of their Year 7 intake.
Enough time has already been lost and we want to make sure that this year group have the best possible chance to be successful at secondary level.
What’s next for the Open Data Project?
The Open Data Project had been operating for some time before SixIntoSeven and we had already started to look at attendance, assessment and transition between primary and secondary in Modern Foreign Languages (MfL).
We know the teaching of MfL in primary is inconsistent – one reason is lack of specialists. We also know that MfL in secondary schools is also not without issues in some contexts, particularly in terms of recruitment and engagement. We have developed the platform to support this area too – and will be offering this to schools soon.