Real transition and next steps forward

This is probably a note to self and also a reference blog for a cluster of primary schools and one of their local high schools, who are working together to generate real and purposeful transition.
These are practical points from a real scenario.I think that is important to understand should you read on,as it's a record of what is really happening and can be achieved and a solution for one set of circumstances .Below is a link to a blog which shares links to other possible solutions ....

A real way forward 

Today I have had the pleasure of considering the Year 7 Autumn term and the resources that the secondary department started to use last year.During our shared cluster/dept meeting in spring it became obvious a review would help to maximise the resource.The HOD does not want to just go over old ground and wants to extend and challenge the new Y7 arrivals from KS2 in September but also wants to be secure that all pupils get the same start.I am certain that there are teachers out there who recognise this scenario too. 

Transition does not happen overnight. 
Today though in this transition project the momentum is gathering pace and the primary and secondary schools together are taking over the reins.
Great news!

It's taken us three years and then "some" to get to the point where there is not just dialogue but effective action to address what primary into secondary language learning is beginning to look like.The "then some" are the five or six years prior to this that the y practice local primary schools and myself have been working toward what good primary practice looks like in their individual schools and circumstances (staff, timetable, resources). You will also notice that I wrote "beginning to.." as  things will continue to change and the organic nature of change is important. The last three years have been crucial......

 In these three years there have been: 

  • primary meetings of cluster teachers with myself
  • feedback to the HOD
  • meetings with the secondary staff with myself
  • reviews of progress
  • access to shared learning tools (the High School belong to our network and can access all the webiste materials and resources)
  • shared emails 
  • a "re-look" and changes to the  Autumn Year 7 materials at the High School
  • discussion of materials with HOD and myself 
  • sharing of Year 7 resources with Year 6 teachers
  • year 6 performance and sketch project 
  • year 7 taking the performance and sketch project and creating their own opportunities to develop and extend this
  • shared department and cluster meeting with real examples from KS2 and real examples from Year 7 and 8 that sparked exciting dialogue and real commitment to see the links.
  • a Summer 2014 Year 6 celebration project to be revisited and built upon in Year 7 Autumn first three weeks.... and don't forget the sketches from the sketch and performance project too!

It's not racing ahead. It's small sensible steps.It's not asking KS3 colleagues to approach language learning in a primary manner or to ask KS2 colleagues to set up listening comprehensions "secondary " style. It's been about fitting jigsaw puzzle pieces together and making room for additional pieces of the ever evolving picture..... It's getting exciting.

Reading this it may seem a naive blog but since the mid 1990s I have been working in both primary and secondary language learning. Each has it's own identity.What is required is a scaffold and someone to support the building of the scaffold. Different solutions will be needed for different local challenges and additional rungs and support keep on being required. KS3 does have the challenge of drawing together different primary school approaches etc but this happens or has happened across other subject areas too. 

So my review of Autumn Y7  today tells me that we don't necessarily need to throw the baby out with the bath water.That resources and approaches  in KS3 to meet the new POS requirements can fit alongside good primary practice.

How? Well,as always take simple strategic and achievable steps:

Next academic year KS3 needs to be (and some of this is already happening):

  • Be aware of the contexts and content your KS2 colleagues deliver
  • Understand how primary look at phonology - songs, rhymes, phonics activities
  • Understand be aware of the stories and exposure to text
  • Understand and be aware of primary creative outcomes and the writing that will take place
  • Understand and build upon the learning tools such as games to develop recall, memory , participation, communication

Next academic year KS2 needs to promote(and some of this is already developing):

  • the use of bilingual dictionaries
  • understanding of basic grammar - nouns, adjectives and some common verbs
  • the development of memory and recall
  • quality exposure to the written word
  • offer primary creative learning 
  • provide a platform in year 6 to secondary language learning- through shared learning or reviews of prior knowledge and skills

So today we are at our next point in this evolving journey and what the first term in Year 7 can really look like from September 2014 within this cluster.

I have been able to identify with the HOD at the High School September's next steps:

  • provide all year 7 staff next year with access to a brief resume of prior learning
  • apply the shared knowledge of prior learning sensitively and intelligently to the Y7 Autumn term learning resources (knowledge gained from cluster meetings,emails,access to  JLN SOW)
  • celebrate prior knowledge and skills and look for age appropriate revisiting and consolidation of learning through the spoken and  written word- familiar content in the existing secondary resources with unfamiliar twists! 
  • encourage and support continued use of bilingual dictionaries to create independent learners
  • continue to promote creative outcomes 
  • support the pupils to access secondary style listening comprehensions and to identify and apply skills of listening they have been developing in KS2
  • promote and encourage extended writing in age appropriate ways
  • expect and support the pupils to use prior learning particularly using memory and recall and see the links with new knowledge
  • have confidence to revisit and extend and also to move quickly through areas in which the pupils are very secure

Now we need to see what will happen next and how we will need to tweak , re-adjust and move on again next year!