Transition to Post-Primary School

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Preparation – What can the Primary School do?

    • Have a member of staff nominated to deal with transition and liaison with local post-primary schools
    • Foster and develop links with local post-primary schools. Get to know them in detail. What does each school have to offer? What programmes are available? What physical adaptations and resources are in the school for children with learning and/or care needs?
    • The nominated teacher should be familiar with the different options for post-primary curriculum, assessment and examinations.
    • If you have a pupil with SEN transferring to a post-primary school, make contact with the chosen school as early as possible, to allow time for all necessary provisions to be put in place for the child before they begin.
    • Meet with the parents, and discuss any issues or concerns they may have regarding the transition process.
    • A representative of the primary school should attend open evenings at the post-primary schools in the area
    • Integrate transition planning into the SPHE Curriculum during 6th class
    • Pupils with SEN will need to be taught explicitly about post-primary school, and the changes involved. This includes issues such as getting used to timetables & abbreviated subject names, moving between classes during the day, how to keep track of the different dates for homework due, using their homework journal and new facilities and routines (using your locker, what to do during lunch break, the class tutor system, etc)
    • Find out as much information as possible about the new school and allow the child to start a ‘workbook’ or ‘journal’ as part of their programme in sixth class (possibly in the final term). The workbook could cover such issues as:
    • Ensure that there is a positive school climate for all incoming first years, including a comprehensive anti-bullying policy
    • Make parents welcome and try to dispel any worries or feelings of negativity
    • Invite parents, pupils and staff of primary schools to open evenings
    • Have a fun open day at the school for all proposed pupils
    • Nominate a staff member to co-ordinate transition
    • Be aware of incoming children with special educational needs
    • Meet with the teachers from the primary school and the child’s parents.
    • Carefully review any reports etc received from the parents or the primary school.
    • Consider the entrance exam/transition test – how does it cater for pupils with SEN?
    • Apply early for resources for each student with SEN, to avoid any gaps in service provision upon arrival
    • Investigate the timetable and subject choices for pupils with SEN: Does their timetable need to be adjusted? Is it necessary to reduce the number of subjects? Can subject choice for pupils with SEN be individually tailored? Which subjects would be best for the child and provide the greatest level of access and success?
    • Prepare information packs for the primary school and parents, to include information on the curriculum, school maps, school rules, uniform information, school policies etc.
    • Organise a mentoring system in the school for incoming pupils who may need additional monitoring and support during their transition period
    • Provide opportunities for teaching staff to learn about specific special educational needs of pupils that they will be working with (in-service training, summer courses, books and resources, staff presentations etc.)
    • Appoint an SNA as promptly as possible, if one is allocated. Provide them with information and training in relation to the specific needs of the pupil with whom they will be working.
    • Finding my way around the new school
    • School Map
    • School Timetable
    • Homework
    • Different Subjects
    • Having any equipment I need
    • School Rules
    • Meeting New People
    • Making New Friends

It is important that the primary school would provide as much information as possible to the post-primary school. Such information should cover areas such as:

    • Details of any assessments carried out and results
    • Identified areas of particular difficulty & any exemptions granted (e.g. Irish)
    • Results of any recently administered standardised tests in literacy and numeracy
    • Information on the pupil’s individual profile of strengths and needs, and any strategies that may have been successful in addressing these.
    • Level of additional teaching support received in primary school, if any
    • Level of SNA support received in primary school, if any
    • Details of the curriculum studied by the child – was it the full curriculum, were any adaptations or exemptions made?
    • Relevant information on the child’s social skills and behaviour

Primary schools are not permitted to pass on confidential information (e.g.: tests results, psychological reports etc) to the post-primary school, without first obtaining parental permission. However, it is very important that all relevant educational information is passed on to the new school to ensure a smooth transition for the pupil, and allow the new school to make appropriate provisions for the child, and put all necessary supports in place. Parents may choose to bring copies of such reports to the post-primary school when they enrol the child.

NOTE: Just because a child has qualified for resources at primary level does not mean that these same resources will be automatically available at post-primary level. There is no automatic transfer of resources from primary to post-primary school. New applications must be made for each child for SNA support and resource teaching hours, supported by an up-to date psychological assessment.

Preparation – What can the Post -Primary School do?

    • Ensure that there is a positive school climate for all incoming first years, including a comprehensive anti-bullying policy
    • Make parents welcome and try to dispel any worries or feelings of negativity
    • Invite parents, pupils and staff of primary schools to open evenings
    • Have a fun open day at the school for all proposed pupils
    • Nominate a staff member to co-ordinate transition
    • Be aware of incoming children with special educational needs
    • Meet with the teachers from the primary school and the child’s parents.
    • Carefully review any reports etc received from the parents or the primary school.
    • Consider the entrance exam/transition test – how does it cater for pupils with SEN?
    • Apply early for resources for each student with SEN, to avoid any gaps in service provision upon arrival
    • Investigate the timetable and subject choices for pupils with SEN: Does their timetable need to be adjusted? Is it necessary to reduce the number of subjects? Can subject choice for pupils with SEN be individually tailored? Which subjects would be best for the child and provide the greatest level of access and success?
    • Prepare information packs for the primary school and parents, to include information on the curriculum, school maps, school rules, uniform information, school policies etc.
    • Organise a mentoring system in the school for incoming pupils who may need additional monitoring and support during their transition period
    • Provide opportunities for teaching staff to learn about specific special educational needs of pupils that they will be working with (in-service training, summer courses, books and resources, staff presentations etc.)
    • Appoint an SNA as promptly as possible, if one is allocated. Provide them with information and training in relation to the specific needs of the pupil with whom they will be working.

When school starts…

    • Have a welcoming ceremony for all pupils
    • Have some familiarisation activities organised (tour of the school, talk from senior pupils, icebreaker activities)
    • Make sure the child is aware of school and class organisation
    • Make sure the child is familiar with the different members of staff and their roles
    • Use a mentoring system for pupils who may have difficulty transitioning for one reason or another
    • To make it easier for the child to identify his teachers during the initial few weeks, a name tag could be given to all teachers
    • Remind pupils with SEN of upcoming half days or days off, and ensure that this information has been communicated to the home
    • Keep a spare set of keys for the child’s locker
    • Ensure that individual subject teachers of children with special educational needs have time to collaborate, and ensure that support strategies are in place to assist the child to access the curriculum or achieve their individual targets for the term, using suitably differentiated material.
    • Having a ‘buddy system’ in place can be useful to ensure that children at risk of social exclusion or isolation are included and supported in building friendships
    • During the initial weeks of post-primary school, many children will experience tiredness while adjusting to the new, longer school day. This is especially true of children with SEN
    • When adapting to a new routine, consistency is important for children with SEN. Try to avoid any major disruptions to the timetable and daily routine of incoming students until such a point where it is felt that they are well settled.

Strategies for a successful transition for pupils with special needs:

    • It is vitally important that the child meets all members of the post primary school staff (e.g. principal, class teachers, caretakers, secretaries, etc.)
    • The child needs to develop familiarity with the layout of the new school – lunch area, hall, library, toilets, classrooms etc.
    • The child will need to practice the correct route into the school – which gate? Which door to use?
    • It is a good idea to provide a map of the school buildings and grounds for the child and the parents – This map should be colour-coded, if possible
    • Make sure that the child is familiarised with routines in the post-primary school.
    • Visits to the post-primary school should cover assembly and break times as well as different subject classes, etc.
    • Many pupils with Down Syndrome settle very quickly once they understand the rules and routines
    • Information should be issued to the primary school and to the parents on class / school rules, uniforms, P.E. arrangements for the chosen school, etc. as early as possible.
    • Information should also be issued on any clubs and extra curricular activities available in the post primary school
    • Decide on practical issues such as lunch – do students bring a packed lunch? Is there a canteen? Do children buy lunch from the local shops? Which is the best option for the child with Down syndrome?

In Summary

    • Start planning early, preferably at least towards the end of fifth class in primary school
    • During the first term in sixth class, visit and agree on the post primary school
    • Ensure that a transition plan is included in the programme for the child during sixth class (as part of their IEP, if one is in place)
    • Make sure that everyone involved with the child is included in drawing up the transition plan:
      • Primary school staff – class teacher, resource / learning support teacher, SNA, etc.
      • Proposed post-primary school staff – the SEN coordinator, year head, resource /learning support teacher, etc.
      • Any relevant outside agencies – speech & language therapists, educational psychologists etc
      • Parents / guardians

A booklet containing information on transition from primary to post-primary for pupils with SEN is available to download from the SESS. It includes resources for transition planning, and sample lesson plans for use with pupils in sixth class about to transition, and also lessons for pupils beginning First Year.

Click here to access: http://sess-ie.access.secure-ssl-servers.biz/resources/inclusion

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