So, a new decade is now underway and our students have settled back into school as though they have never been away! This is a positive thing and testament to the support and encouragement we provide our school community from before they even start with us in year 7 to beyond the time they leave us in year 11.
From primary school transition to post-16, we aim to provide the skills, experiences and motivation all our students require to thrive. At Our Lady’s we pride ourselves on the comprehensive transition programme we offer; the value of which should not be under-estimated.
We work closely with our local feeder primary schools that develop the children in their formative years and instil important values to stand them in good stead. Many primary schools run year 6 residential activity trips which help to increase confidence and a sense of adventure. The team-building and self-development that take place on trips like this are transferrable skills that make it easier to adapt to high school. It all helps make the unfamiliar territory a less daunting prospect as being away from home increases self-sufficiency, a sense of adventure and the ability to embrace new and unfamiliar activities. If children don't have the chance to enjoy this kind of trip at primary, our annual year 7 Langdale residential trip builds independence.
Our Transition Manager Miss Tkaczuk has partnered with many different companies and educational initiatives to provide a varied, engaging, interactive transition programme for the primary school children who visit us. From historical and drama workshops to forensic science and virtual reality, the children start to relax and enjoy our school environment via these interactive confidence-building sessions. They also get the chance to eat in the school canteen, which again eases the process as they transition from primary to high school. When they start in September, they can embrace the change more happily having already experienced some aspects of the school day.
Prior experience of a high school setting before starting at that school makes the transition process much less daunting. That sense of familiarity helps to alleviate any anxiety and can even make the move exciting for the child. It’s about building their confidence before they start in year 7. Our primary school visitors enjoy interactive sessions and lessons at Our Lady’s and these help to build their self-esteem. This enables the children to adapt assuredly to a setting where all the other students are older than them, to approach staff for support, to navigate their new environment, to make informed decisions and to be self-sufficient in their learning.
Our transition programme includes sessions that build on the skills children are already developing at primary school. For example, our Student Council have worked with Pupil Leadership Teams from local primaries to plan projects and discuss what is required to become a member of the Our Lady’s Student Council.
Tours of the school, open evenings and open days all provide opportunities for prospective students and their families to ‘get a feel’ of life at Our Lady’s interacting with staff and students and addressing any concerns they may have about the move to a new school. We also run moving-up days and offer a Summer School to further prepare the children for the transition.
Once a child starts at Our Lady’s they embark on a five-year journey that we hope will equip them for life beyond school. Additional to the curriculum, they will enjoy a range of trips, workshops, assemblies and enterprise experiences designed to inform them and getting them thinking about their post-16 options.
Mrs Cooke, Our Careers Lead, organises various in-house workshops and out-of-school trips that highlight the range of post-16 options available to our students. Whether they want to pursue an apprenticeship, go on to college and further education or they have a specific industry or career in mind, the extensive careers programme is designed to offer the support and advice they need to make informed choices about their future. Work experience in year 10 is a great way for students to trial careers they may be considering so Mrs Eavers works with them to try to secure the most beneficial work placements.
Our annual careers fair is always a brilliant source of information as representatives from different colleges and companies join is to offer their expert advice to the students. It also provides a networking opportunity where the youngsters can sell their skills and experience to recruiters and potential employees. Mock interviews for our year 11s reinforce this experience and have resulted in some really positive placements and employment offers.
So it’s not all about the timetabled lessons. An education at Our Lady’s offers so much more. It’s about preparing the primary school child for high school and then offering them experiences, skill development and growth opportunities that prepare them for life after school.