Primary to secondary school transition: consistency of language and instruction
![alt text](/filestore/BlogImage/8119ccbc-848c-4321-a8de-163833cc2857/93852406-ede0-47cc-a245-8bb2c4589cfcapple-ga2aa3344c_1920.jpg "Apple on top of books") Image by [Michal Jarmoluk](https://pixabay.com/users/jarmoluk-143740/?utm_source=link-attribution&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=image&utm_content=256261) from [Pixabay](https://pixabay.com//?utm_source=link-attribution&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=image&utm_content=256261) How can teachers make the primary to secondary transition as smooth as possible for everyone involved? The importance of the language used in the classroom cannot be understated. Explanations need to be meaningful and unambiguous, and instructions need to be clear and concise. It’s also important to have consistency across the school we work in. Despite this, there can still be misplaced expectations of year 7s in the first few months of their time at secondary school. Whilst it is important to maintain high expectations, a shared language across primary and secondary could be a great remedy to frustrated secondary teachers and bewildered year 7s during the primary to secondary transition period. ## 4 tips for helping the primary to secondary transition One way to create the best transitional environment for your new year 7s is to gather information about common practice in primary schools, for example, how do they indicate to children the teacher wishes to speak? How do they insist on good presentations in books? How do they encourage children to be independent learners? Equally, sharing your methods is a great way of sharing good practice and could also help to close the communication gap. In the meantime, here are some great tips to use ready for September. ###1. Three before me 3 before me is a method used to ensure pupils are independent and develop a resolve about their own learning. Explain to students that before they ask you for an answer, they must have already: 1. looked around their table for a clue, whether that be to look back in their books, re-read the question, or look at any of the help sheets provided. 2. looked around the classroom for a clue. For this, ideally, students will have access to dictionaries, thesauruses, textbooks, helpful displays, etc. 3. asked their partner or someone on their table. This won’t work if you have asked students to be silent. If you have, but also enforce 3 before me, you will get a student asking if it’s okay for them to talk to their partner, totally negating the whole process. Make it clear when 3 before me should and should not be employed. There are other versions of 3 before me - changes in the number of ports of call for students to make before you. Try discussing with the class what they experienced in primary school and use what they say to make it work for you, your classroom, and the subject you teach. **Related content:** [LbQ’s Passport to Secondary Science: a year 7 science transition resource](https://www.lbq.org/Blog/secondary-science-transition) [Behaviour management in the classroom: a guide to 9 strategies you can use today](https://www.lbq.org/Blog/behaviour-management-classroom-strategies) [7 easy ways to improve pupil progress that you can use in your classroom today](https://www.lbq.org/Blog/improve-pupil-progress-classroom) ### 2. Countdown routine Students may have had teachers say a slow and simple ‘1,2,3’ as an indication that students must quieten. They may have had their teachers jazz it up a bit with a, “hocus pocus!” and students reply “everybody focus!” The latter may seem a little childish, but remember these are 11 year olds and getting students to repeat something back to you ensures they aren’t gassing about something else to someone else. You may already be using a countdown to silence in your classroom, but asking what students experienced in their primaries, may give you insight into what will more quickly fit into the students’ routine. ### 3. Classroom jobs It is a very common complaint from secondary school teachers that pupils who come up in year 7 are ‘not independent enough’. An interesting notion, when you consider that if you visit a primary school classroom, you are likely to see a scurry or children organising the classroom, handing out books, gathering various resources without the teacher even muttering a word. This is in part down to the assignment of jobs and responsibilities given to pupils - providing many opportunities for independence. Ask your year 7s what jobs they did at primary school - they might come up with jobs you hadn’t even realised would be helpful - holding the door open at the beginning and end of the class to save the door from slamming constantly, for example. Being clear about the jobs you give students, and being astute as to who does what, could make for the perfect end and beginning of your lesson, whilst providing structured opportunities for independence. ### 4. Pen licence The expectations on presentation in primary schools are a lot stricter than in secondaries. If you bear in mind that writing cursively is part of the expectations of the national curriculum, it gives you some idea as to why primary schools take presentation very seriously. It might be argued that presentation isn’t everything and good pieces of work can be produced without an underlined title and a neat date. But high expectations can lead to more pride and care in one’s work. These high expectations must be outlined in the beginning, and you might avoid what seem like crazy questions (“Miss, can I write in pen?”) if you find out what those expectations were at primary school. You don’t have to start handing out pen licenses, but ‘legible’ handwriting is needed for GCSE exams. Laying out ground rules for presentation and setting high expectations may prevent legibility slipping during secondary years. ## Primary to secondary booklet resources Here at LbQ HQ, we know that transition resources are always helpful in those first few weeks of the term. So we’ve put a couple of them together to help out secondary maths and science teachers. Settle in your year 7s with our primary to secondary transition resources. ### Secondary Maths Transition Pack Our Maths Transition Pack is full of helpful treats, like ready to progress guidance resources and a list of the top ten skills needed for a speedy transition into secondary school. [Download your free Maths Transitions Pack.](https://www.lbq.org/filestore/Guides/Sept_2022_maths_transition_booklet.pdf) ### Passport to Secondary Science This transition booklet helps year 7s have an engaging and meaningful introduction to secondary science, prepping them for time in the lab. [Download the Passport to Secondary Science booklet.](https://www.lbq.org/Filestore/Marketing/Transition_Secondary_Science.pdf) [Download a printable version of the Passport to Secondary Science booklet.](https://www.lbq.org/filestore/Activities/LbQ's_Passport_to_Science.pdf) [Learn more about how to use the LbQ Passport to Secondary Science booklet.](https://www.lbq.org/Blog/secondary-science-transition) If you want to make the most of our transition booklets, [sign up for a free 6-week trial of Learning by Questions](https://www.lbq.org/TryLbQ). No credit card details needed!