Moving on up: Transitioning into Year 7 at Kings’ School Al Barsha
The move from primary into secondary is a big step but it doesn’t have to be an unnecessarily daunting one. Russell Smart, Assistant Headteacher, Kings’ School Al Barsha, takes us by the hand to explain more.
When children come into Year 4 at Kings’ School Al Barsha they’ve already built up a ‘tool kit’ of independent strategies and this starts from Foundation Stage (FS1), whether it’s through collaboration, critical thinking or problem solving.
In Years 4-6, there’s a higher expectation from teachers, and children are given the opportunity to promote themselves and that independence. And this runs right through from FS1 through Year 6 and up to Year 12, with the same shared learning behaviours and expectations – right down to manners and politeness.
Because this is embedded early on, this frees us up to take on more things such as creativity, problem solving and the mastery approach; and we can go much deeper with their learning because they’ve already built up that resilience and know it’s OK to make mistakes.
Leadership roles also have a part to play, both for Years 5 and 6, but the latter specifically. Each class will have different representation for different roles.
For example, we have a Royal (school) Council, which runs from Year 2 up, and as we go into Key Stage 2 we have other opportunities such as our Eco Council (Year 2) through to head boy and girl in Year 6.
There are also house captains, happiness ambassadors and play leaders; so there are lots of opportunities for children to not only lead their learning but also wider school opportunities and we encourage everyone to ‘have a go’.
In Year 6, we ask students to produce a presentation on what would make them a good leader. Some choose to present to us as an argument as to why they should have a leadership role, while others just present to their peers. Many children use known inspirational leaders in their presentations and refer to the skills and attributes that will make them a good leader at Kings’.
Over the course of the year we see children who were initially extremely shy, completely transformed: welcoming people to a school production or standing behind a lectern delivering a workshop to parents.
Narrowing the gap
A benefit for children being based at Kings’ School Al Barsha is that they have the opportunity to journey through the school from age three to 18.
Starting in Year 5, we implement a number of across school activities designed to soften the transition as we count down to Step Up Day. This includes interactive experiences such as STEAM days, where the children get to tour our fantastic facilities, as well as themed pop-up events led by student ambassadors from different year groups.
There’s natural continuity as those that move up still get to see friends from other years during breaks. What adds to this is that teachers from secondary come in to team or solo teach at primary level, and vice versa. So, there’s already that bridge and any potential fear of ‘strange faces’ is certainly reduced.
Students that we feel may need a bit of an extra push or support also benefit from a buddy system, where we team a Year 6 up with a Year 7 or 8 so that when it comes to finding their way around with a new timetable and different classrooms, which can be a little bit daunting to start with, they have someone to rely on.
Experiences like these really communicate the ‘buzz’ of secondary school and, as such, give our children a taste of what’s just around the corner for them as they prepare to move up.
If you enjoyed this article, you may be interested in reading this story about Kings’ Al Barsha’s outstanding GCSE results.