By Duncan Baldwin
, ASCL Deputy Director of Policy
A set of fresh-faced Year 7 students arrive at the school gates with the usual mix of anticipation, excitement and apprehension. It’s one of those familiar rituals repeated in every secondary school at the start of every academic year.
Only this year is different. Like every student, teacher and leader, their last few months of education have been far from the norm.
Over the coming weeks, as those new students start to find their feet, their Year 7 teachers will also be attempting to uncover each student’s level of knowledge and understanding to help them get the best possible start to their secondary education.
The absence of a normal transition programme at the end of last term and no SATs data means that Year 7 teachers may have limited information when planning how to support each student in the new cohort.
To help this situation, ASCL has been working with secondary and primary headteachers as well as platform developer askEddi
on a new project, SixIntoSeven
, which uses the professional judgement of Year 6 teachers to give Year 7 teachers vital insight into each new student they will be teaching this year.
Secondary schools invite their feeder primaries to participate, and in as little as 30 minutes, a Year 6 teacher can provide essential information on each individual pupil from their class last year.
This judgement not only provides secondary school colleagues with information on each student’s level of understanding in key areas, but also highlights occasions where a conversation about individuals who may require more support would be advantageous. This helps more detailed interventions to be targeted to those students most in need.
Get a head start
Having a head start on understanding your new cohort has a multitude of benefits, not least in the event your area is subject to a local lockdown. If this does happen and you have to close your school to large numbers of students, having intelligence on the abilities of those who have recently joined you will be invaluable.
So much around assessment and accountability is focused on determining school or teacher performance, whereas this project is completely focused on benefiting the student. What’s more, it gives a realistic determination of their ability rather than being a measure based on how they perform on a given day.
I strongly believe that this form of indicating pupil progression, by trusting the judgement of the educational professional who knows them best, is he way that we should be identifying support needs more widely.
Building that trust and relationship between primary and secondary schools and securing a strong handover of pupils will benefit not only them but us as a profession by using our professional judgement to help other colleagues.
SixIntoSeven is a secure data sharing resource for schools to support the Year 6 to Year 7 transition. To get involved, please visit https://opendataproject.org.uk/sixintoseven/
Duncan Baldwin is ASCL Deputy Director of Policy