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Pupils will not visit their new secondary schools before September

PUBLISHED: 15:01 04 June 2020 | UPDATED: 15:01 04 June 2020

Schools are having to turn to alternmative ways to ease the transition of primary pupils to their new secondary schools. Picture: PA/Ben Birchall

Schools are having to turn to alternmative ways to ease the transition of primary pupils to their new secondary schools. Picture: PA/Ben Birchall

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Primary pupils set to move to secondary school in September will be unable to visit or meet their new teachers face-to-face under coronavirus restrictions.

Chris Snudden, director of learning and inclusion for Norfolk's children's services, part of Norfolk County Council. Picture: Julian Claxton PhotographyChris Snudden, director of learning and inclusion for Norfolk's children's services, part of Norfolk County Council. Picture: Julian Claxton Photography

Moving up to ‘big school’ is a major step in the lives of 10 and 11-year-olds and the transition to secondary education is why year six pupils have been included in the priority years returning to reopening schools.

Year six children commonly use the last weeks of term for lessons and activities preparing them for the change, as well as visits to their new school to make sure the transition is as smooth as possible.

Coronavirus restrictions mean that the normal transition process cannot happen, with schools now making alternative plans.

Year six pupils back in the classroom at St Williams Primary in Thorpe St Andrew. Picture: Sarah ShirrasYear six pupils back in the classroom at St Williams Primary in Thorpe St Andrew. Picture: Sarah Shirras

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Chris Snudden, director of learning and inclusion for Norfolk County Council’s children’s services department, said: “At the moment the advice is that children don’t make visits to secondary school. Transition will happen at the primary school.

“We won’t have staff coming from the high school down into the primary school, but as soon as we can we hope that there will be different ways of helping youngsters with their transition.”

She said schools were turning to virtual methods of being able to put children in touch with new teachers, including virtual tours of high school.

Jim Adams, chief executive of Clarion Academy Trust. Picture: Nick ButcherJim Adams, chief executive of Clarion Academy Trust. Picture: Nick Butcher

“Lots of things are happening, lots of preparation. Primary schools are fantastic at preparing their children for going on to the next phase of education,” she said.

Jim Adams, chief executive of Clarion Academy Trust, which oversees Hobart High School in Loddon and Pakefield High, near Lowestoft, said: “We have been told not to bring year six on to the secondary site so it is going to be videos and online meetings and schools are going to have to be very creative around that.”

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The Department for Education (DfE) has told schools that teaching should focus on “readiness for secondary school”, including additional teaching in key subjects like maths and English to make up for any losses to learning.

Melodie Fearns, headteacher at St Georges Primary School in Great Yarmouth. Picture: Victoria PertusaMelodie Fearns, headteacher at St Georges Primary School in Great Yarmouth. Picture: Victoria Pertusa

Melodie Fearns, headteacher at St George’s Primary School in Great Yarmouth, where year six pupils will return on June 8 for two days a week, said only about a third of parents had indicated their children will be in school.

She said: “Most parents feel coming back now is going to be another big change for the children and then another big change going to high school.

“A lot have reported being settled into routines of learning at home that they are comfortable with and feel this is preferable to the unknown risk of return at present.

“At least the children who do not return will retain the memory of primary school as it was, as they move on to something different at high school in September, rather than returning to and remembering a socially distanced primary environment for the last few weeks of their primary life.”


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