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Transition guide (by Nasen)

A quick guide to supporting the needs of pupils and their families when moving between educational settings.  This guide is for SENCOs, other school staff and parents and carers.

The guide aims to:

  • set out the key principles underpinning successful transition from one educational setting to another and into training or employment for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities
  • suggest some practical approaches to supporting a smooth transition at different stages in the education process
  • examine processes for transition planning and review in secondary schools
  • identify what schools and disabled young people themselves can do to smooth the transition from school to higher education

First published in 2014 by nasen.

©nasen 2014 The right of nasen to be identified as the author of this book has been asserted by them in accordance of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988. All rights reserved.


Transition

A quick guide to supporting the needs of pupils and their families when moving between educational settings.

This guide is for SENCOs, other school staff and parents and carers.

What is transition?

The term 'transition' is used to refer to life changes that children and young people may go through. Some will be experienced by all children, for example puberty or moving from one educational setting to another. Others will only be experienced by some children and may not necessarily be understood by their peers, for example illness or death in the family, family break-up, going into care, adoption, issues related to sexuality, teenage pregnancy, the asylum process or the consequences of crime.

This quick guide focuses on just one kind of transition – moving into, between and out of educational settings. In particular, it looks at three key transition points – the move from:

  • early years to primary school
  • primary to secondary school
  • secondary school to work, college or university

This guide aims to:

  • set out the key principles underpinning successful transition from one educational setting to another and into training or employment for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities
  • suggest some practical approaches to supporting a smooth transition at different stages in the education process
  • examine processes for transition planning and review in secondary schools
  • identify what schools and disabled young people themselves can do to smooth the transition from school to higher education.

Moving from one school or setting to another can be stressful, and while all children and young people benefit from positive experiences of transition, some require additional support. Children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) often find transition more challenging than their peers. This quick guide has some suggestions for what feeder and receiving settings can do to ensure that transition is as smooth as possible for this group.

Key principles for effective transition

This section outlines the key principles underpinning effective transition for children and young people with SEND. These will apply at any transition point.

Receiving settings – be prepared!

  • Make sure that the setting is accessible. Educational settings are subject to the Equality Act 2010. This places duties on establishments not to treat disabled people less favourably and to make 'reasonable adjustments' where disabled students are placed at a 'substantial disadvantage'. The duty is anticipatory, ie it does not only arise when a disabled pupil/student is about to join; instead, educational settings should anticipate the requirements of disabled pupils/students and make, in advance, the adjustments they are likely to need.

  • Find out early if pupils/students have particular needs and make the necessary adaptations and reasonable adjustments. These should be in place when the pupil or student joins the setting. You can find out a great deal from reading pupil profiles, relevant past reports and supporting documents, such as progress reports, provision maps, education, health and care (EHC) plans and attendance and behaviour data. However, it may be difficult to get a true picture of the capabilities and needs of an individual from paper or electronic records, so create opportunities to get to know the pupils/students better before they join you by, for example: − meeting and talking to them and, as appropriate, to their parents, carers, teachers and other key professionals who have worked with them − observing them in the 'feeder' setting before they join your setting.

  • Prepare your staff. All staff need to have a good understanding of the needs of those due to join the school or setting. Make sure that staff briefing and training take place in good time, so that when pupils or students arrive everyone knows how to make them welcome and secure, how to help them settle in quickly, and can take account of their needs.

Feeder schools – pave the way!

  • Share information with receiving settings. Staff need to understand the implications of an individual's SEND so that they can plan to meet those needs and pass information to the receiving setting in good time. Some settings compile a profile, which outlines key facts about an individual and highlights points to consider, for example: - mobility needs - how the individual communicates - special measures to support participation or learning, such as allowing additional processing time, breaking tasks down into manageable steps and using visual timetables - strategies that support positive behaviour, such as giving movement breaks and using 'time out' cards - care and/or support needs.

  • Prepare pupils/students. It is important to listen to them and acknowledge and address any concerns they may have. Encourage them to visit the new setting to get to know the layout, experience the curriculum and meet staff and peers.

  • Work with parents/carers. Remember, transition can also be a stressful time for the parents and carers of children and young people with SEND. Working closely with parents will help them to feel confident that they have the right information and are well prepared for the process. Good communication and a consistent approach between home and school will help support children and young people through transition.

"One primary school works with its feeder secondary school to buddy up Year 6 pupils with Year 7 pupils. The pupils meet and then correspond online. Primary pupils can ask their online buddies any questions as they arise. Year 7 buddies continue to look out for the new pupils when they join the school."

Plan to improve transition for vulnerable groups

There is clear evidence that certain groups of pupils find transition particularly difficult, so work with your feeder schools to target those groups. Funding streams such as the pupil premium can be used to help vulnerable groups, and although this funding is not directed specifically at pupils with SEND, approximately 30% of pupils who attract the pupil premium will have SEND (see nasen's quick guide, The Pupil Premium). Look out also for government initiatives specifically targeting transition, such as the recent pupil premium-funded summer school programme. A 2013 Department for Education report (The Impact of the Summer Schools Programme) found that, in general, most pupils who attended summer schools run by their receiving secondary school had fun, made new friends and said they felt more confident about starting secondary school.

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