Wednesday, 21 April 2021

The True Purpose of Year 6

What is the true purpose of year 6?

Whilst writing a blog post about how the true purpose of year 6 isn't preparing for year 7, I got to asking the the above question.

This year and last, due to Covid, year 6 children and teachers have had what has historically dominated their year taken from them: the year 6 SATs. Except that's not what they're called, is it? They're actually KS2 tests which take place in year 6 and therefore their tyranny over the final year of primary school is unjust.

And so, with no further discussion, we will write off preparing for and conducting SATs as being the true purpose of year 6.

If you've read my previous blog posts regarding transition to secondary school you'll also know that I also reject the notion of year 6's true purpose being a year of preparation for year 7.

So, if it isn't about SATs and it isn't about transition, what is the true purpose of year 6? Here are just a few thoughts to answer the question:

  1. Teaching new content - first and foremost let's not forget that year 6 has its own curriculum, and it isn't exactly light on content. The main focus of year 6 should be ensuring that their learning journey continues. The fact that there are no SATs this academic year means that this learning can be focused on the curriculum rather than the test content, and should ensure that the learning continues right to the end of the year and that there is no post-SATs slump.
  2. Consolidating previous content - and before new content can be taught, the reality for year 6 teachers is that previous content must be recapped, retaught and in some cases taught for the first time before they can teach the year 6 curriculum. Much of this content will be essential as they move forward beyond year 6 so it is an important part of the year.
  3. Closure - for children in primary schools (as opposed to middle or all-through schools) year 6 is their last year of a 6-8 year journey, often completed all within the same school. Year 6 is a good year for rounding off the primary experience on a high, not only consolidating curriculum content but some of the other 'soft' skills that they have been developing during their time in primary. It's a time when some children say goodbye to childhood friends as they go their separate ways and so some relationships need that closure too.
  4. Reaching the top - there is something about being the oldest in the school that is almost a rite of passage. And with great power comes great responsibility - children who have been part of school life for several years have an important role to play. Year 6 children of great use when it comes to showing people round, tidying away the nursery toys and being playground buddies to younger children, and this responsibility is good for them too, developing them into more than just arithmetic and grammar machines and providing them with some real life skills.
  5. Maturity - year 6 is a natural time for children to navigate their changing bodies, emotions and relationships whilst in a more familiar, safe setting. It's also a great time for children to be treated as those who are more mature - familiar adults who have seen them grow up are often able to have enhanced relationships with these children as they see them as who they really are: vastly developed human beings, as compared to how they were back in the early years.
  6. Being the best - this is similar to the last two points, but brings in the idea of independence and autonomy as well. As mentioned in point 2, children have already learned a lot during their time at primary school and year 6 is a great opportunity to use and apply all that they have learned, having the responsibility released to them as much as is possible. Year 6 is a great time for children to feel like they can give their all to every project, every piece of work and every opportunity - it is this spirit of independence that will set them in such good stead for secondary school (although they will need to learn to transfer this independence to other areas of school life once in year 7).
Finally, I am most interested in your views on the true purpose of year 6 - I would love to add to this blog post with ideas from others because I am certain there are more aspects of year 6 which could be considered as part of the year group's true purpose.

Put a comment below or send me a tweet on Twitter and I'll add some ideas below!

From @HRWK_Magazine: What Should I Do If a Child Has Finished Their Work?


https://hwrkmagazine.co.uk/archives/4182

A common question, but countless potential solutions. I explore how to use time effectively when a student has finished their work earlier than anticipated.

You all recognise the scene: a line of children stretching from your desk to the classroom door and then doubling back on itself, snaking its way between desks and chairs, children waiting patiently (alright, not always patiently) to have their work seen and to receive their next instruction. To be honest, many of you will have solved the problem of the eternal queue, but the question remains:

What should I do if a child has finished their work?

Read on here: https://hwrkmagazine.co.uk/archives/4182

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

True Transition Begins in September

Life begins at 40 (apparently) and transition begins in September.

In our first 40 years, we don't think to ourselves that we are preparing for the next 40 years. We get on with life and live in the moment (relatively speaking). This living, in most cases, does prepare us for the next years of life (most of us do plan ahead), however the sole purpose of the 40th year is not to ready oneself for the 41st year (although I'm sure there is some mental preparation to do in order to embrace 40). You don't become 40 until you complete your 40th year - I'm not sure anyone spends 39 pretending they are 40.

The above should be true for transition too.

Primary school, done right, should prepare children for secondary school, however it is not the sole purpose. Year 6 might require some mental adjustments in order to be ready for the concept of being in year 7 but it shouldn't be the year where all the actual changes take place. Year 6 should not be year 7 a year early - year 6 has its own purpose too (not SATs and perhaps the true purpose of year 6 is another blog post for another time).

As I've hinted at above, there are aspects of transition that can take place prior to the starting date - the day they walk through the door of their secondary school - and there is quite a lot of information out there already to help year 6 teachers and parents with this (see Emily Weston's blog post, Transition Talks magazine and Liz Stevenson's blog for good examples). After all, it is important that our year 6 children are mentally ready - optimistic, resilient, excited, ready for a challenge - before they arrive at 'big school'.

However, if you're with me so far, we surely must agree that actually the greatest part of transition work must happen once those year 7s are through our doors at the beginning of September (or the end of August for the keen ones).

When I asked both primary and secondary staff on Twitter What would you expect a new y7 child to be able to do independently when they arrive? the answers were many and various:

However, many answers from secondary staff appeared to me to be focused on the expectation that primary children should arrive knowing how to do some very secondary-specific things. Here are some examples:

  • Read and understand a timetable
  • Pack the correct books and equipment for each day
  • Transition between lessons in different rooms in different parts of the school 
  • Have the habit of checking the time themselves and being on time
  • Understanding how to access lunchtime arrangements
  • To know when and when not to ask for help
  • To know when and when not to ask for permission (e.g. to get out of their seat, to take off items of clothing, to go to the toilet)
  • Be used to a different number of break times and lessons
These expectations, focusing on children's ability to organise and manage the school day despite it being very different to what they are used to, were the focus of many answers. Such expectations will vary from school to school and will even vary from teacher to teacher within each secondary school -children go from learning one school's expectations, and one teacher's expectations, to having to learn a new school's expectations plus 15 different teachers' expectations of the above (even where schools have the most consistent approach to routines, systems and expectations there are bound to be personal differences - see some of the other answers in the Twitter thread for examples of this).

Many such expectations were mentioned seemingly as something which could be talked about at primary school during year 6 so that in year 7 they know exactly what to do.

The problems with this are several-fold:

  • A conversation, no matter how many times it is had, will never trump experience. The only real experience children will get of the above is once they arrive in year 7.
  • Year 6 teachers are often dealing with children heading off to multiple secondary schools - as a result they can only really speak generically about what their class might be facing come September. 
  • Often, or nearly always as is probably the case, year 6 teachers will not have specific knowledge of the routines, systems and expectations of even just one secondary school.
  • Conversations happen at a minimum 5/6 weeks prior to the children actually setting foot in their secondary school - there is a lot of time to forget during that time, especially since the information is highly theoretical and is attached to no true experience.

Of course, there is more that primary schools could do, beyond a conversation. For example:

  • Transition days provide a chance for children to experience a real day in a secondary school, however on those days very few of the above expectations are in place: they don't have to pack a bag full of particular books, or bring the right equipment, or wear the right uniform, or find their way around the school using a timetable and a map. Perhaps transition days could expect more of the above, however doing that may serve to deep anxieties around starting secondary schools rather than put minds at ease - which I do believe should be one of the main purposes of a transition day in the summer term of year 6.
  • The current trend seems to be that primary schools replicate as much of secondary school as possible during year 6: different teachers, different rooms, timetables, a change in pedagogy or classroom environment. However, with all the best will in the world there are many practical limitations to these efforts (building size, staffing etc) and the net result in reality is still this: they have not yet set foot in a secondary school and have not yet had to do full days, full weeks and full terms in what, to begin with, is an unfamiliar environment with potentially alien routines, systems and expectations. In a primary where children are given something intending to represent a year 7 experience, there are still many aspects of primary life that will not replicate secondary life completely (lunchtimes for example). Besides, I would still argue that this approach is the wrong way round, hence my previous blog post and the title and content of this one.
  • Covid seems to have brought about the production of video material which in some ways does away with the aforementioned issues of parents and year 6 teachers not knowing enough about the particular expectations of each secondary school. Video content available online means that children and parents can learn more about secondary life from the comfort of their own homes. This is a positive move, however, as before, does not replicate fully the lived experience that can only be gained by starting secondary school for real.

The fact is that whilst primary schools can go some way to help year 6 children to be secondary-ready, the real bulk of the transition work needs to be done by secondary schools once the children are in year 7. 

September is the time to introduce the new expectations, systems and routines and the key is to be supportive in how they are introduced, following a gradual release of responsibility model. Expecting the finished article in week 1 of year 7 is unrealistic, and kindness and empathy will be required in how new year 7 children become familiar with the new expectations, systems and routines.

And it won't just be a matter of weeks, either. In order to truly embed much of this new secondary-specific practice, children will need months to acclimatise. As I've mentioned in a previous blog post, schools must be aware of the cognitive load that all the newness will put on the brains of these 11- or just-12-year-olds. I know that even as an adult starting a new job in a new school it has taken me months - terms, even - to get to grips with new expectations, systems and routines, even as a deputy head. In fact, each different part of the year brings slight changes to some of the routines and throughout the year there can be constant subtle changes to get used to.

Those of us who work in secondary schools really need to see year 7 as an entire transition year, and we must treat the children with the necessary care and understanding as they learn the ropes. And, as I've also written before, if the expectations are lowered in terms of such practicalities, there is more chance that expectations can be raised when it comes to the all-important curriculum learning that needs to happen in year 7. Plus, if teachers are less stressed out about whether or not a child has read a timetable correctly, packed the right books or tied their tie correctly because they understand that embedding these things will take time, they will have a happier time of it too - no more annoying year 7s.

More from my blog on transition:

Making Secondary Schools Primary-Ready

Three Characteristics of a Supportive KS3 Curriculum

Working Towards a Middle Phase in an All-Through Academy: Potential Logistical Changes for Years 7 and 8

Click the image below to book free tickets for the TransitionEd conference, which I will be speaking at alongside many other wonderful people:


Tuesday, 6 April 2021

Friday, 2 April 2021

Middle Grade Reading Round-Up: February - March 2021

Murder on the Safari Star (Adventures on Trains #3) by M.G. Leonard & Sam Sedgman, Illustrations by Ellie Paganelli (Pan Macmillan)

The third in the series, and I was ready for everything this one had to give. Hal and Uncle Nat once again meet a cast of colourful characters (some of whom you might feel like you know already) in this (dare I say it) enjoyable whodunnit for children. I think it is a fairly brave move to have a murder in a children's book, and the events of the story should rightly raise some discussion points. The book, although an intriguing mystery in an exciting setting (complete with all the animals you'd want from a safari through Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Zambia), is a good starting point for discussing good and bad, right and wrong as well as how different people might respond to death. Leonard and Sedgman have really nailed the format in a child-friendly form and those who've kept up with the series will be beginning to be adept at picking up on the clues needed to be sleuthing as they read.

'Murder on the Safari Star' is available now and features on my Children's Fiction 2021 list at bookshop.org: https://uk.bookshop.org/lists/children-s-fiction-2021

Space Oddity by Christopher Edge, Illustrations by Ben Mantle (Chicken House)

A book about life and the things that matter, all rolled up in a story about a boy who discovers he is part-alien. The last book I read by Edge was The Longest Night of Charlie Noon which I felt was aimed at a slightly older age group than Space Oddity - this new one could easily be managed by 8 or 9-year-olds. Apart from being a twist on the classic abducted-by-aliens narrative from the old days of Sci-fi this book is actually a sweet ode to human creativity. Whilst acknowledging that people have done a lot of damage to our planet, it also celebrates the beautiful things that we have created. Of David Bowie's 'Space Oddity' Jake's alien dad says: "...songs... tell us what it means to be alive. This was the most beautiful song I'd ever heard. And a human being had made it. I thought if they were capable of this, then maybe they weren't as primitive as we though they were." Every child who has ever felt embarrassment at how weird their parents can be will relate to this brilliantly-told story.

'Space Oddity' is available now and features on my Children's Fiction 2021 list at bookshop.org: https://uk.bookshop.org/lists/children-s-fiction-2021

Melt by Ele Fountain (Pushkin Press)

Two stories intertwine in the cold, unforgiving Arctic as a subtle message about climate change and human irresponsibility is passed on to the next generation. Bea is a city kid, tired of moving around with her dad's job and suffering bullying at yet another new school. Yutu lives in a remote Arctic village with his grandmother who holds to a simple, traditional way of life. After Yutu decides to try and prove himself as a hunter out on the tundra, and as Bea crash-lands a plane as she flees her father's attackers, they are brought together in the freezing environment and theirs becomes a race for survival. Those who have read and loved Bren MacDibble's books, or Nicola Penfold's 'Where The World Turns Wild' will love this, as will those who have read 'Viper's Daughter' by Michelle Paver ('Melt' is a like a modern-day version). In the mold of a classic adventure story, complete with bad guys but with a truth that must be uncovered rather than a treasure to be discovered, 'Melt' is a testament to friendship, determination and all-important know-how.

'Melt' will be published on 29th April 2021 and features on my Children's Fiction 2021 list at bookshop.org: https://uk.bookshop.org/lists/children-s-fiction-2021

City of Rust by Gemma Fowler (Chicken House)

Sci-fi again, but set in what I assume to be a post-apocalyptic world, ruined by human wastefulness. So far have humans gone with their refusal to reduce, reuse and recyle, that they have taken to flinging their trash into space. However, the poor of the earth are resourceful, and there's plenty they can do with the rubbish, so long as the Junkers can get it down to them. We meet Railey and Atti, her bio-robotic gecko in Boxville, where they are star drone racers. What they don't know is that they have been training for years - training to save the world from the revenge of those who hate the way of life in the Glass City. Fowler's creations are a treat for the imagination and although Karl James Mountford's cover is absolutely stunning I'd also love to see some artistic representations of the world we are shown in 'City of Rust'. In an original adventure, perfect for fans of Philip Reeve's Mortal Engines and Railhead books, Gemma Fowler spins a tale of loyalty, ingenuity and derring-do whilst making an important statement about the potential consequences of materialism.

'City of Rust' is available now and features on my Children's Fiction 2021 list at bookshop.org: https://uk.bookshop.org/lists/children-s-fiction-2021

The Chessmen Thief by Barbara Henderson (Cranachan Publishing)

Historical fiction - probably my favourite genre. Even more so when it is medieval historical fiction. This, set in Norway, the Hebrides and the Orkney Islands in the 12th century, is a Norse tale after Henry Treece's Viking books for children. 'The Chessmen Thief', an imagined origin story for the famous Lewis Chessmen, paints much of the culture in a positive light, including the influence of Christianity. Henderson paints a vivid picture of life for slave boy Kylan as he pines for his mother whilst plotting and scheming to make his escape. The descriptions of people, place and actions great and small are so evocative of times gone by and it is easy to feel that one is there, among the people, able to smell the sea air and feel the excitement brought about by the creation of these innovative and exquisite pieces of craftsmanship. This book is a fantastic addition to the growing number of titles focused on the Viking age, this one made more rare by not focusing on activity post-1066.

'The Chessmen Thief' will be published on 29th April 2021 and features on my Children's Fiction 2021 list at bookshop.org: https://uk.bookshop.org/lists/children-s-fiction-2021

The Life and Time of Lonny Quicke by Kirsty Applebaum (Nosy Crow)

If M. Night Shyamalan wrote middle grade fiction, then he'd write something like 'The Life and Time of Lonny Quicke'. Kirsty Applebaum has already mastered the art of making a reader feel unsettled for the whole duration of a book, and in this one she does it again. Bringing folk tale aesthetics to the modern world, Applebaum spins a supernatural story of life and death. What makes this stand out from some other children's books that might be categorised similarly, is that very little suspension of disbelief is necessary: only does the reader need to allow themselves to accept that Lifelings, people who can prevent others from dying by giving up some of their own life, are indeed real. This brilliantly-spun yarn provokes many moral questions and is a great device to really get children thinking about self-sacrifice and serving others. And once they've read it, get them to think about how clever the title is.

'The Life and Time of Lonny Quicke' will be published on 6th May 2021

Thursday, 25 March 2021

Three Characteristics of a Supportive KS3 Curriculum

The curriculum in key stage three can be one of the aspects of the year 7 experience which most supports the transition from KS2 to KS3. In my all-through academy, the redevelopment of year 7 and 8 in order to better support transition has begun with a revamp of the curriculum. Here are some of the principles we considered as we carried out this work:

A Key Stage 3 Curriculum

  • Should be aspirational and supported in this by logistics
  • Should not focus solely on the learning of facts, but also on the organisation, use and application of facts
  • Provides another opportunity to extend aspects of the primary experience

Should be aspirational and supported in this by logistics

Year 6 children, despite being like rabbits caught in the headlights at times, are not devoid of knowledge, skills or ability. Year 7 is not their first educational experience and therefore it figures that they know stuff and can do stuff already. Sure, the primary and secondary curriculum don’t really join up that well – as acknowledged by its creators – but that’s not really the children’s fault, is it? It is the job of primary and secondary schools to work together to ensure this gap is bridged.

Part of what inhibits this gap being bridged is the fact that Year 6 staff have a dual goal to work towards with their children: helping the children to become secondary-ready and helping them to be SATS-ready. Although I suggest that secondary schools should be more primary-ready (I like that I’ve heard of a school who call their year 7s ‘year 6.5’ to begin with), I do concede that primary schools can be doing things to help year 6 children to be secondary-ready, but SATS get in the way.

Another inhibition in this is a lack of knowledge from both primary and secondary of each other’s curriculum. To this there are two strands: one strand is that teachers are unlikely to have an in-depth understanding of the National Curriculum for anything other than the phase they teach in and the other strand, which is much more understandable, is that teachers are unlikely to have any knowledge of the specifics that are taught in either the secondary schools they feed or the primary feeder schools. Obviously, this is where much work needs to be done both on national and local levels with more training and collaboration clear necessities.

However, even if this work is non-existent or in its infancy, it is possible to aim high with the secondary curriculum. It is most likely that a great many year 7 children have been given the chance to think deeply about a wide variety of matters, that they have been exposed to some high level material in several subjects and have had high expectations placed upon them in varying social and academic situations. Whilst this might not be true for all, it will be for some: a knowledge of feeder schools, including how and what they teach, and to what standard, would enhance the transition for children with regards to what their prior knowledge and skills might be like.

Whilst it is often the case that content needs to be revisited, and in some cases taught for what appears to be the first time, it is worth considering how the brand new secondary school experience might be impeding a year 7 child’s ability to recall prior learning. In stressful situations even the greatest minds struggle to remember things that ordinarily, in less pressured times, they would be able to recall with ease. When year 7s come to a brand new building (a huge one at that), with new peers (and sometimes a lack of old peers), new adults, new rules, an increased expectation of independence in certain matters (getting to school, getting to lessons, following a timetable, bringing correct equipment) and so on – all that stuff that makes secondary so daunting for some year 6/7 children – it might just be that their ability to both recall previous learning and undertake new learning is affected adversely. The cognitive load of starting secondary school is potentially huge.

If this is the case, then surely it would help new children if logistics were changed to allow for the most important thing to take place: learning. Secondary schools might see children settling in better during year 7 if there wasn’t such a wholesale change to the way they do school. Remove particular expectations (don’t lower expectations) regarding some of the above ‘newness’ and use the mental capital gained to focus on learning.

By doing this, year 7 children will be able to engage in debates about the main protagonist in a novel. They will be able to carry out complex calculations. They will grasp new scientific concepts. They will learn new geographical terms. They will be able to use their prior knowledge of historical periods when learning about new ones. They will be able to organise and play team sports. If they aren’t worrying about which lesson is next, what the teacher will say when they find out they’ve forgotten their protractor and so on, they will be able to concentrate on their learning better. If a school is serious about removing these kinds of barriers, they will have to assess and recognise the potential obstacles that are particular to their school and their students.

Should not focus solely on the learning of facts, but also on the organisation, use and application of facts

In the majority of secondary schools, children come from many primary feeders and therefore come with a wide variety of differing curriculum experiences. Some will have learnt about the Tudors, some won’t – the primary National Curriculum is open enough to allow this to happen. Some will have covered aspects of the KS3 curriculum already, and some won’t. This is a source of concern for secondary teachers, one which can often lead to the easier route of planning with the assumption that children haven’t had the necessary prior learning.

This approach certainly means that a teacher won’t be disappointed if children don’t already know something, however it means that some children can become demotivated. Children have an understandable aversion to feeling like their current knowledge and skills are being overlooked; most children like to be challenged and to feel like they are learning something new, or doing something new with what they have already learned. Just as we adults hate sitting through a training session about something we can already do, children can react negatively to being taught the same things over again.

So a curriculum for year 7 needs to be developed with three things in mind:

  1. Stress brought about by great change may be masking the fact that they do actually have the necessary prior knowledge.
  2. Children from different primary schools will have learnt different things
  3. Not all children have the same level of prior attainment, even those coming from the same primary school

What should this curriculum focus on? Of course it should focus on the delivery of knowledge and skills, the balance between the two will be subject-dependent. However, in order to cater to the above three considerations, it should do more than that. It should also focus on the organisation, use and application of facts.

If a curriculum goes beyond the learning of facts, then it can better cater for the variety in prior learning. Whilst some children in a class might need to major on just learning the facts because they are entirely new to them, the children who already know the material from primary school can get on with organising, using and applying the facts. Without going into too much detail (because there is probably a book’s-worth of stuff to say about all that that might encompass), this organising, using and applying boils down to doing something with what they know beyond writing it in their book and storing it in their minds ready to be recalled at a later date.

Framing a unit of work or even a single session with a question that must be answered is a quick way of doing the above. Having a concept-based unit of work where children must think about how particular pieces of knowledge are linked to a given concept could provide opportunities for children to organise facts. Designing units of work that encourage children to draw together knowledge from multiple disciplines provides the scope for children to build schema. Planning sessions and units which require children to make links between the knowledge they have learnt and current events, their own experiences and things that matter to them can provide scope for learning beyond fact retention. Creating a logical sequence of units where children are expected to make explicit connections between prior learning and current learning allows children to do more than just learn the current set of facts or practice the currently taught skills.

The above approach does mean that in any one classroom the depth at which children are accessing the material may differ from child to child, however it does allow for more children to be receiving the level of challenge that they need. Planning a sequence that takes children from learning facts and then on to organising, using and applying them doesn’t have to be an onerous task although it does mean that a traditional three-part-lesson might not always be the order of the day and that groups of children will have varying starting points in each lesson.

It is at this point that I yet again acknowledge that I really need to blog about the development of our own KS3 curriculum!

Provides another opportunity to extend aspects of the primary experience

This point is entirely contextual – specifically based on the experience that year 7s have had in their primary school. When considering how, alongside more primary-like logistics and expectations, a secondary curriculum might give KS3 children a smoother transition from primary learning to secondary learning, it will be necessary to survey feeder schools to gather more information on their curricula.

In our all-through academy the primary curriculum is cross-curricular, particularly in the arts (including English) and the humanities – maths and Science (for the most part) are taught discretely. We have been developing a year 7 and 8 curriculum which bears more resemblance to this approach than it does to a more typical secondary curriculum where subjects are taught separately (again, more of this to come in a future blog post).

The above brief description of our KS3 curriculum may be totally irrelevant to some secondary schools though, where their feeder primary schools teach each subject discretely with no cross-curricular links. Many secondaries will be receiving children who have varied experiences of how their primary curriculum was set up. Moving to a cross-curricular curriculum in KS3 where this is the case may not extend the primary experience at all.

However, at primary school, the majority of lessons in the majority of schools are taught by the same teacher who knows the whole curriculum for the year (something which will probably never be replicated in secondary). Having a KS3 curriculum with deliberate, in-built explicit links would allow multiple teachers to be more aware of the broader picture of everything that the children were learning, meaning that they had a curriculum overview more akin to that of a single primary teacher. Having several teachers of different subjects who know about the whole curriculum is potentially a better next step for year 7 children than having several teachers, none of whom know much about what they will be taught in all their other lessons.

And curriculum is only one step away from pedagogy. It’s difficult to think of one without the other, especially for teachers who have to take the school’s curriculum and work out how it should be taught. Secondary schools could consider their KS3 pedagogy, adapting it to both reflect the primary experience and to prepare for the KS4/5/HE/FE experience: it doesn’t have to just be one or the other, it could form a distinctly different bridge between the two.

Again, context is important – different primaries have different pedagogy and there is no particular way that all year 6 children will have been taught. However, there could be more digging to do here – if primary schools have taken on the whole concept of making children secondary-ready, it is likely that children in upper key stage 2 have already been weaned off things like outdoor learning and more playful experiences. Just because this has already happened, doesn’t necessarily mean that those ways of teaching shouldn’t be present in secondary schools. If secondary schools were willing to employ such pedagogies for their younger pupils, it might then impact back on the pressure that primaries feel to conform to such ways of teaching.

It would seem that a primary lesson will often look quite different to a secondary lesson. There isn’t necessarily any right or wrong in what might be seen as a stereotypical lesson in either phase – each phase could learn things from the other, I’m sure. Some cross-phase observation and conversations between teachers would help to develop ways which KS3 teachers might teach to ensure that their teaching is age-appropriate and not just an attempt to teach 11, 12, 13 year olds in the same way one might teach an older teen.

Whether it is in its design or delivery, the KS3 curriculum can and should support the transition from year 7 to year 8.

Further reading from my blog:

Making Secondary Schools Primary-Ready

Working Towards a Middle Phase in an All-Through Academy: Potential Logistical Changes for Years 7 and 8