New Service: Transition Project – What is it About?!
Today marks the second week of the transition projects for the selected year 6 pupils that will be moving on to Brislington Enterprise College (BEC) and Oasis Academy: John Williams in the next academic year. The project is funded and supported by Quartet Community Foundation. Here to tell us all about it is head workshop leader of the BEC transition, Sarah Fullagar, as she reflects on the success of last weeks session.
This week, amid a North Tour, two in-school drama sessions and an after school club I also began a new project with unique voice at Brislington Enterpirse College (BEC).
The Transition Project invites year 6 children who will be moving to BEC in September and provides them with the opportunity to get to know their new school, staff members and their new surroundings prior to their first day of year 7.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll be sat at home reading this and wishing you’d had the same opportunity back when you were 11. I remember my first day at secondary school like it was yesterday- despite it being a good 14 years ago. I was the oldest child in my family and where my sister had the chance to learn through my experience, I pretty much had to work it out for myself. I would have loved the chance to really explore and investigate my new school in a small group without the hundreds of huge older pupils milling around. Huge is an exaggeration, BEC- along with most high schools, is not populated by students who are half teen, half giant- but the older students are much taller than the year 6’s I’m working with (who am I kidding, loads of them are taller than me!)
When we arrived at the school on Tuesday I was greeted with 13 year 6’s. Some the only one from their primary school, some in groups of two or three, and all looking pretty overwhelmed.
Usually when Unique Voice work in a school we are with a class of children who have known each other well for a considerable amount of time. The group is well formed, and the children are aware of the group dynamics which in turn allows us as leaders to cotton on to the ‘feel’ of the group fairly swiftly. The initial few minutes of the session with these children who didn’t know each other showed the extent of their nervousness, especially when I encouraged them to work with children from different feeder schools to themselves.
Over the next 5 weeks we will be facilitating a range of activities for these children to explore. They’ll be meeting staff members, current year 7’s, using the school facilities, and be given the chance to challenge some of their worries and fears about moving up to high school. I have no doubt that there will be many more exciting surprises for us all along the way; during our tour of the school on week one the children were invited to have a go on the dance mats in the library. (I had a go too, there was one spare and it would have been rude for me to leave it empty!)
The final half hour of the session was spent in the corridor. I say corridor, but the central one in BEC is more like a street, and would probably be wide enough to drive a couple of cars down. So we decided to take it over. Once all the older students had gone home, we paired up our group and asked them to blindfold their partner and lead them down the street, describing everything they saw. As they grew more confident the children invited their partners to experience different textures around the building, be it the rough wall, or the cold smooth staircase. Upon finishing the exercise I asked the children to say if they had felt safe with their partners, if they had trusted them. An overwhelming show of hands told me they had, and I had seen for myself that the group had emerged from their shells throughout the two hour session. Friendships had already begun to form, barriers had been relaxed and I cannot wait to see how the group continues to bond over the coming weeks. It is, of course, our intention that by the end of our sessions these children have the confidence to throw themselves into their new school life without fear or uncertainty holding them back.