Aim: To facilitate pupils’ transition to secondary school through building links with primary schools and developing skills in the key concept area of causation.
Background: Links with primary schools were being forged and there was a desire to work collaboratively with primary staff to develop a taught transition unit which would introduce pupils to a subject they may not have been taught discretely before. It was hoped that this early exposure to rigorous History teaching could have a long term effect on the future progress of students.
Method: The impending 100th Anniversary of the First World War led to the decision to use this as the main topic for the transition unit.
Year 1: Letters were sent to potential primary partners to outline the project, and a meeting was organised. Unfortunately, working in depth with more than one school was not viable because of time and interest issues, but Godmanchester Primary School volunteered to be the main project partner and a joint scheme of work was developed.
Year 2: Godmanchester and Hinchingbrooke staff worked together to deliver the joint scheme of work to Year 6 pupils. A focus group of 30 pupils was surveyed, alongside a control group who had not experienced the transition unit. The scheme of work was reviewed and updated for use the following year.
Year 3: The progress and opinions of the focus groups were monitored over the course of Year 7, and the whole of Year 7 was surveyed to see whether there were different opinions among those who had experienced the transition work. Plans were made to extend transition visits to other partner primary schools the following year, with the hope that previous transition group pupils would act as history ambassadors.
Evidence: Discussion groups, questionnaires, classroom observations and assessment data.
Impact: The Year 6 questionnaire showed that the Godmanchester focus group developed noticeably more positive opinions about History compared to the control group, and their achievement levels did not drop in the transition to secondary school. The Year 7 questionnaire showed that 73% of the focus group had increased their interest in History, and 63% had found it easier to settle into Hinchingbrooke History lessons as a result of the transition unit. Current data suggests that a majority of focus group pupils are making expected or better than expected progress, though it is not possible to exclude other variables from this. Anecdotal feedback from staff and pupils has been overwhelmingly positive and primary staff have commented that they have learnt useful skills and techniques for teaching History.
Reflections: The transition unit has been a pleasure and a success in terms of promoting positive attitudes towards History, and it has fostered good relationships between staff and pupils across the schools involved. There have also been informal opportunities for the professional development of primary and secondary school staff through peer planning, review and observation.
Contact: James Leigh, firstname.lastname@example.org