We all vividly remember our first day of Senior School. The feeling of finally being a ‘big kid’ that accompanied putting on the new school uniform. The novelty of having a locker that reminded you of films set in American high schools. And the nerves of having to get to know a whole new set of teachers.
The transition from primary to secondary education is a key milestone in the lives of young people; a much anticipated rite of passage signaling the move from childhood into adolescence. Whilst being a time of great excitement, it can also be one of intense anxiety, for both students and parents, and brings with it the risk of disruption to learning and progress.
One of the great advantages of students attending a through-train school, spanning from Early Years to Sixth Form, is that transitions from stage to stage can be tightly managed with excellent communication between teachers, opportunities to prepare students for change and the chance to evaluate the smoothness of the move. From the moment Kellett School extended to include a Senior School, clear Year 6 to Year 7 transition procedures were put in place. Each year since, we have refined these to ensure that our Year 6s moving on, and students joining us in Year 7 from other schools, make an excellent academic and social start to their Senior School years.
However, there is nothing like experience to truly prepare our Year 6 students for what awaits them in Year 7, and so a ‘Senior School Taster Day’ is calendared in November. A full day of exciting lessons, with subjects such as Science, Design and Technology and Music, allays fears and has students bubbling with excitement on their return. Not only is it a chance to try out life as a Senior School student and become familiar with the building, but it’s also a perfect time for Prep Students from each of the campuses to renew friendships or forge new ones.
As the year goes on, our Prep School teachers have a crucial role supporting the build up to Year 7. Expectations of the students rise in terms of taking responsibility, independence and, of course, in terms of homework. Furthermore, the Prep teachers hold the responsibility to clearly communicate students’ learning and social needs. Structured pastoral and academic meetings between staff from both phases ensure that key information is passed on so that any ‘dip’ in learning can be avoided. This helps Senior School staff as they start to plan Tutor groups for the incoming cohort.
In May we hold a Transition Meeting attended by Year 6 students and parents. It includes presentations from key Senior School staff members, who share information ranging from the structure of the timetable to possible lunch menus in the Harbour Dining Room! An opportunity for questions, ensures that everyone leaves the evening with a clear picture of life as a Kellett Senior School student.
Finally, in the third term, a series of English, Maths and Science lessons are started in the Prep Schools. Maths and Science investigations are completed with Senior teachers during a last Transition Day at the end of May. At this point, students meet their tutor groups, the Heads of House and attend lessons with their new classmates.
Such carefully planned transition results in a very smooth move. This is evident when you see confident, happy Year 7s eagerly climbing the stairs on their first morning of Senior School.