A major new project involving children from five Salford primary schools aims to ensure every child thrives when they move to secondary school.
The Level Up to Secondary project has been made possible thanks to a grant of almost £80,000 from education charity SHINE.
This ambitious scheme, which is being led by St Patrick’s RC High School, in Eccles, is designed to help children to build their self-confidence, improve their communication skills and deepen their numeracy and language abilities.
Moving to high school can be a challenging time for all children but the pandemic has made matters worse.
Assistant headteacher for inclusion at St Patrick’s, Luan Barrie, said: “Transition is a crucial stage in children’s education, and we know that getting it right will ensure children get the best opportunities over their five years in secondary school.
“This has been made all the more difficult over the last two years, which is why we are particularly excited to be launching this project.”
Following extended lockdowns, teachers have found many children and their parents are also suffering from a lack of confidence, motivation and low self-esteem, making the move to secondary even more challenging.
The Level Up to Secondary project is bringing teachers from five primary schools together with the team at St Patrick’s to strive to ensure that “no child is left behind” as they progress through education.
A new Transition Hub is being set up, and a support officer has been appointed to help run the project.
Twenty-five children in Year 7 at St Patrick’s are being trained to become peer mentors and they will visit the primary schools to help those children preparing to join them in September.
Mr Barrie said: “The move from primary school to secondary school is an exciting opportunity for most, but it’s also a time of uncertainty, of anxiety and of having to adapt to change, not only for the children but for their families too.
“The formation of the transition hub with our five partner primary schools and with the support of SHINE, will enable us to work much more closely with our primary colleagues, with the Year 6 pupils and their families.
“The project is about removing those barriers to learning, about closing the gap, and about providing the opportunities that are going to ensure that our pupils can thrive and achieve to the best of their ability.
“I think our pupils are really going to benefit from this programme and it is a very exciting time.”
Primary children taking part will receive a mixture of face-to-face and bespoke online literacy and numeracy classes, workshops and e-learning modules. There will be networking meetings and training for teachers, and workshops and coffee mornings for parents.
All children, parents and staff will be given access to an online portal where they can find resources.
It is hoped the programme will help to bridge the attainment gap that exists between disadvantaged children and their peers, which has been widened by COVID-19.
There will be a focus on reading, writing, speaking, listening and the understanding of numbers, with the aim of increasing progress and pupil attainment in English and maths.
Helen Rafferty, Interim CEO of SHINE, said: “We are delighted to be supporting this important project in Salford. We know that the transition to secondary school can be a daunting time for students and families, and some of those pressures have been exacerbated even further by the effects of COVID.
“The transition hub, and dedicated support, will help children to thrive in their educational journey through secondary school, and we are very much looking forward to working with St Patrick’s.”
The five primary schools taking part in the pilot are St Teresa’s RC Primary School, Irlam, Holy Cross & All Saints RC Primary School, Eccles, St Gilbert’s Primary School, Eccles, St Joseph the Worker Primary School, Irlam and St Mary’s RC Primary School, Eccles.
A spokesperson for the primary schools said: “We are really looking forward to being part of this innovative and exciting transition project. We are looking forward to working closely with St Patrick’s RC High School to make sure that the Year Six children have a seamless transition from primary to secondary.
“We think that involving parents from the beginning of the process is a really strong element of the programme. Parents being involved in the transition programme and having points of contact at the high school from the start will really help the families feel supported and involved.
“There are some really exciting challenges planned for the children to work through both academically and creatively and this will help develop strong relationships with the staff at high school before the children even arrive there. It’s reassuring to know that they will be met with understanding about their learning and about who they are as individuals.”
Teachers from the partner primary schools, colleagues from SHINE joined staff and Year 7 pupils at St Patrick’s for a launch event to kickstart the project. It is hoped that lessons learned during the programme could be shared with other schools, so that many more children can benefit.