Walton-le-Dale is a mixed community school of 766 students in Preston, Lancashire. Described by students as ‘like a family’, the school places strong relationships at the heart of all they do and strives to ensure that students leave as well-rounded individuals.
Why a focus on transition?
The school has 18 feeder primaries spread over a large area, so transition is a huge undertaking for the school. Designed by the previous Head of Year 7, their powerful ‘welcome project’ has been developed to ensure a smooth transition from the primary to secondary phase.
What does the welcome project include?
- To create a clear picture of each child joining, a proforma is sent to all feeder primaries for completion.
- The head of Year 7 meets each child joining the school on a 1:1 basis- meaning 160 individual meet and greets!
- TAs go in to the feeder primaries for 3 weeks at the end of the summer term to iron out anxieties and answer any questions that might come up.
- Pupils joining Walton-Le-Dale attend two taster days held at the school, where they can spend time with their form tutor and in lessons.
- All pupils joining the school receive a newsletter, explaining what the current Year 7 have been learning over the past year
- All children receive a personal letter from their designated Year 8 ‘buddy’
What else does Walton-le-Dale do to make transitions sucessful?
‘Come Dine With Me’ day
To support the 25 most vulnerable students joining, TAs organise an annual ‘Come Dine With Me’ day. During this day, pupils prepare a lunch by making bread, pizza and other dishes. Through these activities, they have the opportunity to interact and begin to form relationships with both other pupils and and the TAs that will be supporting them on their school journey.
The ‘welcome project’ has had a huge impact on the school, which experiences very few issues around transition.
Year 5 Day
To support the transition process as early as possible, Walton-Le-Dale invites over 700 Year 5 pupils from the local feeder and primary schools for an annual ‘Year 5 Day’.
The day features a theme (previous examples include Harry Potter and Roald Dahl), and all activities during the day are linked to the chosen theme. During their ‘Harry Potter’ Year 5 day, the pupils made their own wands and butterbeer was brewed during food tech!
At the end of the day children leave with a goody bag, as a reminder of a brilliant first experience of secondary education. It is unsurprising therefore that the Year 5 day has proved hugely popular with both staff and participating young people.
We think this is a brilliant example of a school working collaboratively and thinking outside the box to give their learners the very best chance of success. To find out more future opportunities to see some of the great practice in secondary schools in the network contact Verity.