Our school grew out of two high performing local primary schools and we are incredibly proud of this foundation. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that we are incredibly passionate about making transition to secondary school as successful as possible. We do this in three ways:
- Valuing the learning that students have already undertaken
- Establishing systems that enable students to make good progress right from the start
- Knowing the students as well as possible as quickly as possible
Valuing the learning
We appreciate that students moving to secondary school have already completed half of their schooling. They have already learned a great deal and we will expect a great deal from them right from the start. We will not re-teach them things that they have been doing for years. We will take their end of year six levels very seriously and will build upon the high standards they have already reached.
We set students according to their English and mathematics Key Stage 2 levels extrapolating these scores into other subjects as well. For example, we use a student’s English level to help us set them for history and geography as well. Similarly, their mathematics level is used to set them for science. We set target grades based on their year six levels and push them to demonstrate rapid progress right from the first week. If we can see that the set is wrong for them then we will change it, but we will not waste time re-testing them when we know how robust the end of Junior School SATS are.
Knowing the students
As soon as the announcement is made regarding who has successfully gained a place to attend Becket Keys Church of England School we run another open evening for students and parents to come and see us again. One of our students will give a speech and members of the senior leadership team will welcome the students to our school. We promise to learn the name of every student at Becket Keys Church of England School, so we start this straight away!
We then visit every student in his/her primary school and aim to spend at least 45 minutes with them. More names to learn! We meet year six teachers and if possible the head teacher to talk about our new students. We spend time asking the students questions so we can get to know their strengths, their passions and their concerns. We ask teachers about friendship groups, special needs and who benefits from what kind of challenges. We conclude the visit by inviting primary colleagues to come and join us for a ‘primary teachers’ tea’ in September where they can come and meet their ex-pupils at Becket Keys and join us for a cup of tea and cakes!
Next we organise for new students to come and spend at least one day with us towards the end of the summer term. We try to arrange this to align with the other Church Secondary School in Brentwood, so that Primary Schools are not disrupted too much. Students experience six lessons, break time, lunch in the Becket Bistro and a time of collective worship. On the same day, we invite parents and students to come back to school for a ‘meet the tutor’ evening.
Finally, we host a Patronal Festival Barbecue towards the end of the summer term for new families to come and spend an afternoon with us. We have a huge barbecue; games on the field (including a huge bouncy assault course) and our orchestras and choirs perform throughout the afternoon. Year 7 and 8 students are there to assist with hosting and it gives a great opportunity for new students to get to know their new peers.
We have found this approach to be extremely successful and we have had excellent feedback from students and parents. Year 7 is a triumph at Becket Keys Church of England School!