Helping Year 6 with secondary school transition
Reopening schools may be causing an on-going row, but it now looks like the majority of KS1 and Year 6 pupils will be returning on June 1st.
Why Year 6, you may be asking? After all, SATs have been cancelled, and they are in the transition term before moving on to secondary. Experts believe it will be beneficial for pupils in Year 6 to return to school and see their friends before heading off to a new school in September. Primary teachers will also be able to do vital work preparing them for the move to secondary school.
If, however, your school isn't opening or your child isn't returning to finish Year 6, there is plenty you can do at home to help them with the transition. Information is critical here as it's the thought of the unknown that makes pupils panic. The reality is their incoming school will have a smooth transition process designed to not only alleviate the stress but also help them settle. But you can help them with the rest from keeping up to speed to knowing what to expect.
Key elements to bear in mind:
At secondary school, each subject as a specialist teacher
This means in every lesson your child will be with a different teacher. This can be hard to handle for pupils used to having only one teacher. It also means coping with teachers that have different expectations and different teaching methods.
Subjects are taught at greater depth
Primary school is all about foundation knowledge and the chance to build skills. These include basic math abilities, literacy - reading and writing -- and specific subjects such as science and humanities. As a secondary school student, your child will now go more in-depth into subject areas and learn more complex techniques and theories and be expected to have an opinion and give reasoning and evidence for that opinion.
CATs will determine where your child is academically
Secondary schools know that the summer break (which looks to longer this year due to Covid-19) means pupil assessment from primary is likely to be wrong. To find out where your child is, around November, new Year 7 children do Cognitive Abilities Tests (CATs), to test general intelligence and to stream or set for specific subjects. These tests are designed to assess a pupil's ability in three different areas: verbal (thinking with words); quantitative (thinking with numbers); and non-verbal (thinking with shapes and space). The CATs tests are designed to be taken without any revision so that the school can assess a child's potential.
The summer slide does happen
The summer slide is the phrase used to describe the backwards steps that many children make in reading (see our blog post on KS3 reading) and math skills over the summer. It's normal and happens to most children, but this year it may be more significant due to lockdown. If you want to help your child, keep up with the homeschooling, encourage your child to read every day and consider some tutor sessions to get them up to speed.
Work on revision, not new learning
While year 7 syllabus books will help once your child moves to Secondary school, right now, the focus should be on the revision of the key elements learnt in Year 6. Getting your child to look over and work through maybe old SAT papers or Year 6 workbooks is an excellent way to keep them learning during term time.