The journey from Year 6 to 7 is considered one of the most significant in a student’s educational career. Traditionally, a move or a transition from a Primary school to a Secondary school means adjusting to a larger and more diverse environment, making new friends, adapting to different curriculums, expectations, teaching styles, and managing increased responsibilities.
Research and evidence highlight the potential negative consequences of inadequate preparation and support from schools, as our children move from Primary and Secondary school. These consequences can impact students’ social-emotional well-being, mental health, and academic attainment and progress.
Van Rens, M., Haelermans, C., Groot, W., Van der Brink, H.M. (2018)
Using current research, here at ISB we are knowledgeable, empathetic, and well equipped to be pro-active rather than reactive to these potential negative outcomes of a Year 6 to Year 7 transition and build outstanding provision mitigating against these potential negative experiences, moving from a Primary to Secondary school.
This is why at ISB, we have a dedicated Middle Years community which spans Year 5 right through Year 8. Ensuring we offer evidence-based practice to generate a supportive experience with these obstacles in mind, not just between Years 6 and 7, but from the beginning of Year 5 through to Year 8, and beyond.
Our Middle Years community removes the experience of a traditional and potentially problematic ‘transition’ and replaces it with a smooth, evolutionary journey. Removing jarring experiences, dis-jointed learning journeys and disruptive changes. Middle Years bridges what would otherwise be a gap, between a Primary and Secondary school and aligns our two sections to come together to form one school.
The research tells us there are three key areas of focus to ensure a successful journey through this stage in our students learning and developmental journey.
School routines and expectations
Healthy peer networks
Education Endowment Foundation.
Therefore, our Middle Years overall student experience can be viewed through three different strands:
Pastoral, Wellbeing, Safeguarding
Students who don’t have a sense of belonging, healthy peer networks, aren’t self-confident, don’t feel safe and happy within their learning environments, will not be able to thrive and therefore, will not be able to excel. Within our Middle Years community pastoral teams lead by Heads of Year, Primary and Secondary leadership teams, School Counsellors and Inclusion specialists and made up of dedicated Teachers, Learning Assistants, and Learning Support Assistants, work collaboratively together on a regular basis to ensure teams a have thorough understanding of each child and their individual needs. These teams also ensure enrichment opportunities such as leadership, sporting events and residentials are available at each stage in their journey to support the holistic development of our students.
Curriculum, Teaching and Learning
Curriculum continuity ensures students are prepared for the academic challenges we know await them at each stage of their learning journey, as well as makes certain the right foundations are laid according to the skills and knowledge needed to succeed, as they progress through each year group. An aligned curriculum removes the chance for gaps in skills and knowledge to appear as well as duplication or repetition of content and lack of appropriate challenge. Across Middle Years, Heads of Faculty, Heads of Year, Primary and Secondary leadership teams work collaboratively and meet regularly to reflect and scrutinise our curriculum progression, ensuring rigour, challenge and appropriate support.
Assessment, data and reporting
Familiarity of language and expectations in student feedback are crucial to allow our students to be self-aware of their strengths and know their next steps to continue to excel in their learning. Aligning our agreed methods of feedback and assessment ensures opportunities to continue to improve aren’t stifled, as they journey across the different year groups in Middle Years.
There are lots of exciting differences that our student’s look forward to as they journey from Year 6 towards Year 7.
Moving from Primary Year 6 to Secondary Year 7 involves taking up new subjects such as Design and Technology, Art, Performing Arts, 'Global Life Skills', (GLS) taught by specialist teachers and within specialist learning spaces e.g.; Science Labs, DT Labs, Art studios, Dance studios, Drama studios and the Theatre.
In order to support and guide our Year 6 students in through their journey to Year 7, we create and deliver a bespoke programme of events:
Each Year 7 student takes on a leadership role as a mentor and is partnered with a Year 6 student as their mentee. This supports building healthy peer relationships and networks across the Middle Years, share experiences, answer questions, relieve any potential anxiety and work as role models, motivating and exciting Year 6 mentees about the experiences to come in Year 7.
Curriculum continuity and preparation
Opportunities for Year 6 students to experience new subjects, work with subject specialist teachers and become familiar with Year 7 learning spaces and curriculum and academic expectations.
Year 6 passing through ceremony
Teachers and families come together to celebrate Year 6 students’ successes as they pass through Year 6 and into Year 7 and ISB, continuing their learning journey throughout Middle Years.
Current Year 6 students and students planning on joining ISB in Year 7, participate in several days working as mentor and mentee, continuing to build peer networks as well as offering new students the opportunity to begin developing a sense of belonging and a healthy friendship group in advance of the start of Year 7. These experiences allow Year 6 students the opportunity to spend a full day living life as a Year 7 student, independent of their mentor, as they spend a day on a Year 7 timetable, navigating learning spaces, meeting specialist teachers, tutors and building more excitement as well as preparedness for the academic expectations which await them in Year 7.