Updated: Aug 28, 2022
Transition from Year 6 to Year 7
This is one of the most significant milestones we experience in the UK; arguably the number one right of passage before reaching adulthood at the age of 18. Well, it's likely to be more memorable than starting school in the first place at four or five!!
Reassuring conversations with children in Year 6 should begin as early as they need it. At Primary School they’ll start preparing for the transition from Year 6 to Year 7 in the spring and summer term. They are likely to have Transition Days where they are invited to their new school. This gives them the opportunity to find out more about the building, the staff, the pupils who are there and to gather useful information that they’ll need.
In every school there will be someone who can help them. Maybe someone they know from their primary school, a new friend, an older pupil or a member of staff; there are lots of people to offer support advice and assistance – they just have to ask!
However, most children will have some uncertainty about what lays ahead. Here are some of the doubts, worries and fears they may have. There are some spaces to add any more that you can think of.
A simple handbook has been designed for children approaching the end of Year 6; usually following SATs week. This handbook includes 40 scenarios that new pupils in Year 7 can find themselves in with the opportunity to add ten more that can be specific to the child.
I've never travelled by bus before.
What do I need to know/do?
Who can I ask to help me?
Your challenge is to find the answers to these dilemmas and work with someone who can help to create their own Survival Guide! So, look at the situations and think of how they can be dealt with and who can help. You’re against the clock … secondary school starts in September!
Transition and autism
The National Autistic Society Transition Support Helpline 0808 800 0027 provides advice and support to young autistic people and their families on making the transition from school, further or higher education to adult life.
Starting or changing school
Many autistic children and young people find the change of starting or moving to a new school difficult. For the parent or carer of an autistic child, it can be tough to know how to help. Explore ways to prepare the child for this change and what can be done to support them. If the child has already attended an early education setting, such as nursery, their needs may have already been identified early. The child’s nursery or other setting should pass information to the child’s new school so they can prepare for their admission.
If the child is starting secondary school or changing school, the previous school should pass any information about their educational needs to their new school. Contact should be established with staff to establish how they are progressing. Any issues should be addressed early with the relevant staff in a meeting. Preparing for change, planning visits and designing a phased entry
The child’s current school could organise individual or group work on preparing for the transition. This could include activities that will help the child with the new curriculum. The child should visit the school at least once before they start. If possible, they can meet and take photos of any key people who will be involved in their transition. They can create a book of photos and information they can refer to, as this can help to relieve any anxiety. It might be possible to arrange a phased entry into the new school, where the child goes for a few hours a day or a few days a week to start. Find out more about supporting autistic people to prepare for change.
Using visual supports Visual supports can help the child to understand what will be happening and reinforce verbal communication. These will need to be used more than once, particularly if the change is going to take place over a prolonged period of time. When using visual supports it’s important to use clear language and give the child time to process what is said and make sure that they see outcomes as well as the stages of a process. For example, if using a visual support to explain a bus journey to school, it should include pictures of the whole process, including arriving at school. It may help to mark the day of the change on a calendar and encourage the child to count down to that day.
A visual timetable can help the child to understand what's happening, with lots of praise given for coping with the change and adapting to a new routine. Social stories that are short descriptions of a particular situation, event or activity, helps to include specific information about what to expect in that situation and why. The child could create a social story to learn what to expect in their new school.
Communicating between school and home Information should be shared with staff at the new school about the child's needs, likes, dislikes, capabilities, difficulties, and what causes them anxiety. Effective communication between the parent, the child, the local authority, the school and any support services will make a positive difference. Having pastoral support will help to prepare a transition plan or targets and support strategies in an existing statement or education plan. Parents should always be consulted and kept informed of actions taken to help the child and the outcomes of these actions. The school must inform the parent when they first start giving extra or different help for the child's additional support or special educational needs. The parent knows their child better than anyone, so conversations should take place in school if they have concerns about their child's education. Managing the child's anxiety If there are concerns about the child’s anxiety regarding the change, they should be given the opportunity to ask questions about their concerns and explain why the change will benefit them. They could provide them with a worry monster, book or box where they can write or draw any concerns they have. It would be good to set aside some time to teach some relaxation techniques. They could also create an anxiety plan or a social story to explain what they should do if they are anxious.
For some children, the transition from Year 6 to Year 7 is much more than going from being a big fish in a small pond to a small fish in a big pond. It can be more like drifting off course in the ocean. 😨
What the child’s new school should do When the child starts school, it is likely that the teaching staff will assess the child’s levels of attainment, even though they may already have received information from the previous setting. If additional support or special educational needs have been identified, staff should use information to develop an appropriate curriculum. They should assess, identify and focus on the child’s skills and areas where support will be needed in class, ensuring that there is ongoing observation and assessment. The school should involve relevant individuals in developing and implementing a joint learning approach at home and in school.
Staff should be given information about how to deal with specific behaviours or 'obsessions'. Some autistic children find it difficult to transfer certain skills into different situations, so putting support in place is important. They may also have complex sensory issues and become anxious due to different smells, noises and lights in the school environment. To help them manage this, pastoral staff can explore smells, sounds, lights and noises the child might be sensitive to; sunglasses or ear-cancelling headphones may help them. The schools is responsible for making reasonable adjustments to help children with autism feel more comfortable. The adjustments could be a change to the way of teaching; some help from an extra adult, perhaps in a small group; use of particular equipment, like a laptop or a desk with a sloping top. Read about reasonable adjustments and disability discrimination in England. Transition support rights and responsibilities Schools across England have a legal duty to take positive steps to make sure that pupils with disabilities can participate in all aspects of school life. During transition phases, you may find that you need to advocate for your child. However, your child or young person’s school should never refuse strategies or supports that may help them. If your child or young person has an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP), your local authority has a legal duty to amend the plan or statement by 15 February in the year of transition to include the name of their next school. Further links and resources Find out about the National Autistic Society's free Transition Support Service that offers young autistic people aged 14 years plus and their parents or carers, information and advice on the transition to adulthood. This includes young people preparing to leave school as well as further and higher education.
Transition tips: For teachers and school staff
Support can be offered to children making a Year 2 to Year 3 transition, any child changing school or a vulnerable child in any year group.