Message from Mrs McIntosh
‘True success can be defined by your ability to adapt to changing circumstances.’
Change is unsettling for us all, children and adults alike, but change is also a part of life. This is particularly true in schools where we have to change class each year. Moving to a new class, a new teacher, with new expectations and new challenges can feel like a huge ordeal so I wanted to write a little about what goes on behind the scenes in order to make sure that it is as seamless a transition as possible for the young people in our care and hopefully, by osmosis, for you, their parents.
Transition doesn’t start in June here in the Junior Department, no, it actually starts way back in September because we understand there are two crucial elements in making sure it is successful.
The first is mindset! Right from their first weeks in September we start working on the ideas of resilience, perseverance, adaptability and of course, friendship. These will become the bedrock of what we are building with the children throughout their time at Beechwood. They understand that they will face all sorts of ups and downs through their time here but with the tools and support to deal with them then they know they will be ok.
The second is the staff team. All of our Junior Department teachers and TAs spend time with all of our children, no matter which year group they are in, because we all attend a Monday morning assembly together, we all do playground duties on both playgrounds and we all meet together once a week in our staff meeting where pupils and their pastoral needs are very much a key focus. This means that the children are known, seen and cared for by the whole team and not just their class teacher and TA. In terms of the move from the Junior Department to the Middle Department, this is also carefully managed with regular visits by the MD staff and Mrs. Greenwood too.
We are also lucky enough to have a wider group of people who are part of the children’s lives. People like Sheila Vickery, Mrs. Le Bas, Mrs. Carley, Mrs. Hegarty and Mrs. Lodge are a constant for them as they travel through the Junior Department. This keeps a sense of familiarity for them even when other things are slightly different.
Then of course there is all the work done during the Summer Term when the time for change is approaching. Here is a list of lots of things that happen (although this is not exhaustive by any means):
- Many year group team meetings to discuss which children should go into each class, ensuring that they have each have some friends for support, a teacher that they can thrive with and a good balance of children in the class as a whole (including the mix of boys and girls)
- Trial sessions in these ‘new’ groups to see how they gel and whether the balance and dynamics work (the children don’t necessarily know this is what is happening, but we do!)
- Circle times, PSHE lessons and stories about moving on and change so there are opportunities for them to talk about their feelings and ask questions about the next class and year group.
- Visiting the new classroom and other spaces linked to that year group so that they can visualise them and feel confident about where things are.
- Letters written from the year above to the children coming up explaining what life in that year is like.
- Transition morning – spending time in their new classroom with their new classmates and new teacher.
- Robust handover meetings between staff, discussing each child and their personalities and needs so that they can facilitate the best start for them all in September.
- Celebrations of all that they have achieved during the year and positive messaging about how well they will do in the next class too!
- Have a wonderful weekend!
Even with all of the preparation work happening at school, your support and collaboration remains crucial to the process. We need your help to ensure a smooth and successful transition. If you present yourself as stressed and anxious about the changes that are coming, then your children will too. If you talk positively about it all then that will be their approach as well. Sometimes it is not about the children’s feelings at all. Perhaps you are worried that you might lose touch with parent friends you are connected to or are you worried about the influence of certain children on them? Being honest with ourselves about our motives is a good place to start. ‘Name it to tame it!’ as Dan Siegal says! It helps us understand why we find it so difficult to cope when transition comes around. I encourage you to trust us and the school as a whole in this and maybe look back in October and see whether your fears and anxieties have come to fruition. This article might help too
As ever, if you do have any suggestions or comments about the transition process then I would be happy to listen and perhaps talk about it together.
Have a wonderful half-term break and I look forward to seeing you on Monday 5th June.