Secondary Transfer

Twyford St Mary’s Secondary School Transfer Process: Information for Parents

At Twyford St Mary’s we view children’s transition to secondary school as a major event in their educational journey. To help make the transition a smooth one, we outline here: (1) the relevant steps for parents in the process of choosing and applying for a secondary school place; and (2) work that we undertake at school in order to help the children to prepare for the change and make a successful start in Year 7.

Historically, the vast majority of TSM children have transitioned either to The Westgate School, or the Kings’ School – both community schools in Winchester. The Westgate is our ‘pyramid link’ secondary school’ In addition, some have transitioned to Thornden School in Chandlers Ford. However, a few children have also gone on to independent schools, such as King Edward’s School in Southampton, or St Swithun’s Girls’ School in Winchester.

1. Choosing a School (Hampshire Local Education Authority Schools)

Deciding which secondary school to apply for is obviously an important and very personal choice. In making such a choice, parents need to consider catchment areas for the relevant schools and which school they feel would be most suited to their child.

In order to allow parents and children to ‘get a feel’ for a school before they choose, the schools hold open days – children and parents may visit the school as it operates on a normal school day, and are shown around, often by current pupils. In addition there are open evenings, which are more exhibitional in nature. These generally start with a presentation and Q+A session with the headteacher; and then parents and children are able to visit different subject departments to see what they have to offer and to talk to teachers. Ideally parents would attend both events, because of the slightly different perspectives that each can offer.

Many parents and children start to think about the upcoming choice in Year 5, and then re-visit their preferred schools early in the Autumn term of Year 6 to finalise their decision. Because of our good links with The Westgate School and The Kings’ School, we keep parents of children in the relevant year groups informed of open day and evening dates well ahead of time.

Parents may also find the websites of these schools useful sources of information, regarding the schools themselves, their catchment areas and the application process:

http://www.kings-winchester.hants.sch.uk

http://www.westgate.hants.sch.uk

Submitting an application

The application process for local secondary schools is administered by Hampshire LEA. Parents are required to nominate a first, second and third choice of school, and may apply online, or by post. Here we offer a general overview of the application process, but parents should consult Hampshire LEA information for a definitive guide and confirmed dates for the current academic year.

Parents can find the relevant information on stages of the secondary school application process and relevant dates via the following link:

http://www3.hants.gov.uk/education/admissions/ad-applyonline.htm

The traditional deadline for applications has been 31st October in the Autumn term of Year 6. However, information regarding the application process and the relevant dates for each stage of it is sent to parents of each child in Year 6 at the start of the Autumn term, in September.

Parents who have missed the end of October deadline may submit late applications. Nevertheless, on-time applications are afforded a higher priority in the allocation of places at over-subscribed schools (which would generally include Westgate and Kings’) and children with late applications may find that they are allocated places at other schools (sometimes out of catchment) which have spare capacity. As a result, in order that parents and children have the best chance of achieving their preferred choice, we recommend that parents make every effort to meet the county deadline for applications.

Finding out where a child has been allocated a place

Traditionally allocation letters are sent to parents by Hampshire LEA at the start of March, in the Spring term of Year 6.

Happily, the vast majority of TSM children have, historically, been allocated places at their preferred choice secondary school. However, in recent years, pressure on places at Kings’ and Westgate has grown as local populations have risen. An appeals process is available to parents whose children have not been allocated a place at their preferred school and information regarding the appeals process is sent by Hampshire LEA along with the allocation letters.

2. Preparing children for secondary school

Transitioning from primary to secondary school is a landmark step in a child’s journey towards maturity and independence. In addition, moving from a small school, where everyone knows each other, to a larger environment in which children are taught by several different teachers and in several different rooms can also bring its challenges. At Twyford St Mary’s we believe that it is important to prepare children carefully for these changes, in order that they have the best chance of making a smooth and confident transition, by focusing both on the skills sets required and the opportunities that such a change presents.

Twyford Learning Keys

The progressive teaching of the use of the Twyford Learning Keys throughout TSM helps to prepare children for a successful transition to secondary school, by helping them to think actively about the learning process and ways in which they learn best. In particular, in years 5 and 6, children are encouraged to become much more self-reliant in their learning, to think about how to organise their learning and manage their time, how to research, how to evaluate their work and to identify the next steps in their learning journey. This helps them to prepare for the greater demands for independent learning and juggling their time that secondary school makes.

In addition, children in these year groups take on a variety of school monitor roles, helping with a range of tasks around the school, including House Team leader, assembly, post and library. As well as making a valuable contribution to school life, these help the children to develop commitment, organisational skills and a sense of personal responsibility that will stand them in good stead for secondary school.

Getting to know what secondary school is like

At TSM, we believe that children are more likely to prepare well for secondary school if they have some understanding of what it will be like.

In the summer term of Year 6, teachers from Kings’ and Westgate, often accompanied by a current pupil, come into TSM to speak to the children who have been allocated places at these schools.   During these sessions, the children are typically shown the uniform, and get to discuss subjects, timetables and clubs, as well as homework, and the discipline and rewards systems that the schools have in place. These are popular sessions with the children and are good opportunities for them to ask any questions that they may have.

Spending time at secondary school ahead of transition

Experience of the secondary school environment is also very helpful. At various points throughout Years 5 and 6, children gain experience of the Westgate campus as TSM participates in sports events (such as cross-country running, netball and football) held for feeder primary schools. This enables them to become more familiar with the physical surroundings, as well as meeting Westgate pupils and children from other feeder schools.

In addition, in June or July each year during term time, Westgate and Kings’ both hold Year 6 induction days, when the children are invited to spend time at their allocated secondary school, along with children from other primary schools who will be in their year group. Activities on these days may include a sample lesson, or two, team building projects and sample sports activities and are also very popular.

Both Kings’ and Westgate also host (optional) summer schools for transitioning children, at the start of the summer holidays. These offer a range of sporting and team-building activities, as well as DT and musical options and present a good opportunity for children gain confidence in their new surroundings as well as starting to build friendship groups. Children in receipt of free school meals may be entitled to financial assistance with the cost of these and parents should consult these schools’ websites for details.

Transition information for parents

It is acknowledged that transition from primary school to secondary school may be just as big an event for parents as it is for children. Therefore, both schools invite parents to information evenings, which are commonly held in July before the children start. These also provide a good opportunity to meet other new parents and to make links with the Parents’ Association, if so desired.

Visits for SEN children and other children who may need additional support with transition

For some children, transition to secondary school may present extra challenges. TSM staff have good links with both Kings’ and Westgate SENCos and Heads of Year and can, if helpful, make arrangements for extra secondary school visits, or parent meetings, ahead of transfer.

Further information about transition arrangements made by both schools can be viewed at:

http://www.kings-winchester.hants.sch.uk/school-information/year-6-transition/

http://www.westgate.hants.sch.uk/school/year-leaders/year-7/

PHSE work in school to support children through the transition process

Any period of transition can be emotionally unsettling and confusing, and transition from primary school to secondary is no different. On the one hand, and oscillating back and forth from moment to moment, children may feel that they are looking forward to new opportunities, or on the other may feel insecure at leaving a familiar environment; they may be looking forward to meeting new friends, or worried that they may lose touch with current ones. We explicitly recognise this and, in the summer term in particular, timetable regular PHSE sessions to voice and constructively address their mixed feelings. For example, we reflect on past experiences and look forward both to opportunities and challenges; we explore ways to make new friends and who they can speak to at their new school if they are worried about anything once they start.

It is, of course, very important to celebrate the end of the children’s time at Twyford St Mary’s and all of their achievements while they have been with us. So, at the end of the summer term, we hold at special Year 6 leavers’ service at Twyford St Mary’s church. These are very moving events when the whole school and parents join the children to reflect on TSM memories and share hopes and aspirations for the future.

What parents can do to help their children prepare

Secondary school undoubtedly places extra demands on children in terms of personal organisation, time management and a more complex journey to school. Experience shows that children who are well-prepared for these transition more successfully. Parents can play a key role in helping children to gain confidence in taking on these challenges in a progressive way. For example, throughout Year 6, children should be encouraged to take responsibility for organising their own school bags, PE kits and musical instruments. In addition, they could be encouraged to identify a regular time for completing home learning each week.

Closer to the time of transition, parents could explore bus timetables with their child and could try a dummy school run – perhaps allowing the child to board the bus independently and arranging to meet them at the other end.

3. Information sharing between TSM and secondary schools

In order to ensure that children make a smooth academic transition from TSM to their chosen secondary school, and that new teachers are fully aware of each child’s strengths and capabilities, TSM’s Year 6 teacher meets with representatives of both Kings’ and Westgate. As a result, in addition to the sharing of SATS results, this affords a valuable opportunity to share teacher assessment data, as well as information about children’s sporting, artistic or musical interests.

For children transitioning to independent schools, or other local schools which take fewer TSM children, the Year 6 teacher completes a written report or questionnaire that achieves the same ends.

For SEN children, the TSM SENCo and Year 6 teacher may hold additional meetings with the SENCo from the relevant secondary school. Furthermore, formal documentation of primary school SEN support arrangements for the child may be completed and passed over, where this is necessary.