Change can be difficult, especially for young people. Whilst children regularly show resilience and adaptability to change, the transition from primary to secondary school can be challenging for students. What we call 'transitions' here at LCIS therefore encompasses a number of levels of support and guidance for students and parents to help navigate the process and ensure a positive start to secondary school.
written by Kevin McDaid, acting Assistant Head of Lower Secondary
Our approach at LCIS is multifaceted. The differences between Primary and Secondary are numerous. The main and most noticeable difference is that rather than having one teacher throughout the day, students in Year 7 will learn with and interact with numerous staff.
In Year 6, a student knows that if they have, for instance, a Maths problem, they ask their teacher for help. That same teacher will also help for a Science question, or indeed for a non-academic problem. One teacher is the fulcrum for the student experience. In secondary school, students are taught specific subjects by different teachers in different classrooms, meaning that they must interact with many members of staff throughout the day.
This can be a difficult and disorientating experience for students in the early days, which is why we have a robust pastoral system consisting of staff who focus on the wellbeing of students, guiding them through the changes from Year 6.
Our pastoral system is staffed by experienced and dedicated teachers. Each student will be assigned a ‘homeroom’, and this is the first class of the day where students spend 30 minutes with their homeroom tutor.
A homeroom tutor's role is to support students in managing their day-to-day life at LCIS. The tutor is the first point of contact for parents if they wish to contact the school about their child. Aside from completing the register, this 30-minute session can also be used for House challenges and activities, assemblies or PSHE (personal, social and health education).
In conjunction with the tutors, each year group has a ‘pastoral lead’ – an experienced member of staff who coordinates the year group tutors and is responsible for dealing with more urgent matters should they arise. The pastoral lead is also a key member of staff for parents to contact should they have any concerns. In short, Year 7 students have a team dedicated to ensuring they are supported, happy and settled in secondary.
LCIS supports transitions in a number of ways. Early on in Year 6, teachers will begin to have conversations with students about the move to Secondary – worries, concerns, but also what they are excited about and looking forward to. They may also begin to familiarise themselves with some of the IT platforms we use in secondary.
From March onwards, Primary and Secondary staff then begin to liase to support students with a number of activities. This year, we have recently completed a ‘treasure hunt’ in the Secondary section for Year 6 so that they can familiarise themselves with the secondary area. In June, we will hold a ‘transitions day’ where Year 6 get to meet secondary teachers and experience some lessons, as well as familiarising themselves with key members of staff. In addition to this, much work is done behind the scenes. Year 6 teachers and key secondary pastoral staff will meet to discuss each student in the year group so that we can best meet their needs when they arrive in August.
Parents are also supported in the process. Parent information sessions explain not only the pastoral system and life in secondary, but also the key academic differences, such as the curriculum that is followed in Year 7. Parents are always welcome to contact the secondary team to ask questions and seek information about the change to Year 7.
Transitioning to secondary school is a positive experience for the vast majority of students. They adapt, learn the systems and settle quickly. The transitions process does not end in June with the transitions day; transition continues throughout Year 7 with targeted support from the homeroom tutors, pastoral leads and classroom teachers. We in secondary are very much looking forward to welcoming Year 6, and we are sure we will build positive relationships not only with the students, but with parents too.