If like me the word ‘transition’ brings back memories of your own school reports, ‘could do better,’ then the thought of a book written by Alistair Bryce Clegg on the very subject is a long awaited read.
Year on year, I reflect upon my own practice: have I prepared my little ones for a seamless transition into Year 1? I always ensure I deliver detailed notes about where the children are up to academically, but more importantly I like to ensure the staff know the whole child, the bits that cannot be learnt from looking at data.
This book is a must read for Year One teachers and SLT, but also Reception teachers. It is an easy read that you can pick up and dip into. It highlights the fact that successful transition requires close consultation with the Year 1 staff, but it will also depend on the views of what Year 1 should look like from your SLT. As Alistair points out in his introduction:
‘…no matter how strong your own belief in a play-based curriculum is, it is very difficult to swim against the tide if you are getting lots of pressure from colleagues, senior management, OFSTED, etc. A headteacher once said to me: ‘that is all well and good Alistair, but play theory wont get the SATs that I need!’ And on its own it won’t, but theory, applied by someone that knows what they are doing with support (especially from SLT) will get the best outcomes for children (and they will probably exceed your SATS target).’
Within the short introduction, Alistair covers many important points and explains in a clear and concise way for the doubters that a play-based curriculum is so much more than, ‘just getting the Lego out and letting them get on with it.’
As staff we can sympathise with the children as we spend most of the Summer term worrying about where we will be spending the next year!
‘That is why good transitions are crucial, both for children’s emotional well being, and their potential for attainment. The greatest inhibitor to attainment in schools is children’s self-confidence and level of anxiety. When children feel comfortable and ‘at home’ in their environment they are far more likely to succeed.’
He also challenges many Year 1 classrooms and their idea of a solid curriculum:
‘……When children are just 5 or 6 weeks older after the summer holidays, we suddenly expect them to be able to handle heavily-timetabled days and a dramatic shift in teaching approach- it’s little wonder that some children find it difficult to settle in!’
The book covers the many aspects of transition such as: developing an appropriate curriculum to build on what the children know; how to incorporate continuous provision into Year 1; learning and teaching in Year 1; a case study and a very useful transition diary.
After reading this book, I feel that I am able to put many of the points raised within this book into my action plan. I will also take away with me that:
‘Effective transition takes time, and is a process rather than an event.’
reviewed by Kirsty Hughes, EYFS leader.