VocalEyes is delighted to report that St Illtyd’s High School, Cardiff is piloting a project to support pupil transition from primary to secondary school.

Ieuan Price, the school’s lead on student voice and transition, is leading the initiative and is very enthusiastic about the potential impact of VocalEyes on pupil engagement. 

As transition coordinator, Ieuan recognizes that Year 6 pupils change when they come into Year 7. Instead of being top of the school with all the responsibility and cudos that can offer, they are at the bottom where they feel their voice is not taken seriously. Ieuan has noticed that the confidence he has witnessed in Year 6 can dissipate as they become small cogs in a big wheel and this can influence their behavior. He is not happy about that and wants to find a way to convince Year 7 that their voices are important and that they are key to ensuring the Year 6 pupils in the primary feeders have a really positive transition experience. 

To achieve this he is using VocalEyes. All Year 7 have been enrolled on a group devoted to transition. Ieuan will feed in the transition activities the school used when Year 7 were Year 6, and ask them to rate and debate them. This will be a way of anonymously evaluating last year’s strategies and provide an agenda for this year. The students will also be invited to suggest other strategies they think the school could use to engage Year 6 this year. 

In the summer term Year 7 pupils will accompany Ieuan to the primary feeder schools where they will take responsibility to work with Year 6 classes to teach them how to use VocalEyes and enroll them onto the platform. The most highly ranked and prioritized ideas from the Year 7 engagement will be seeded into the Year 6 groups and they will be asked to rate and debate and prioritize the activities they would most like to take part in. Year 6 will also be asked to add their own transition suggestions for others to rate and debate. 

This approach means that ideas to ensure effective and appropriate arrangements for the transfer of pupils from primary to secondary schools will be driven by the pupils themselves – pupil voice in action on an issue that really matters to them. Ieuan hopes this will convince Year 7 that their voice is important as their ideas are acted on. 

This way of ensuring continuity and progression in pupils’ education is a crucial factor in school improvement and we are delighted that St Illtyd’s sees the potential of VocalEyes as a platform to support this.

Spreading the word

In all local authorities in Wales transition arrangements remain a high priority in school improvement plans

An Estyn Report on school inspections in 2008-2009 showed that transition planning is now a strong feature of the life and work of most secondary schools and their partner primary schools. Nevertheless, transition is an area that needs improving. Too many pupils struggle with the move to secondary school that impact negatively on their attendance and achievement. Schools still struggle with bridging the gap between KS2 and KS3. 

Currently schools tend to focus on pupils the primary school has identified in Year 6 as potentially problematic to try and work with those pupils and parents to ensure a smooth transition. This ignores the views of the majority of Year 6 pupils. St Illtyd’s wants VocalEyes to change all that.

This could also be a fantastic opportunity to engage Parent Voice. Once Year 6 and 7 have identified what transition activities they like best, the primary feeders and secondary school will introduce Parent Voice so parents can be involved. Estyn has recognised that there is still not enough involvement of parents or carers in transition plans – this could be a way forward. 

All parents are worried about transition and want it to go smoothly for their children. By inviting parents to get involved in VocalEyes Parent Voice they can also rate and debate the ideas the children and young people have prioritised and add ideas of their own for discussion. In this way everyone has the opportunity to be engaged.  

Summary

  • Secondary schools want to help their primary feeder schools across Wales feel connected and ensure pupil voice is established and heard across phases. 
  • VocalEyes is an ideal way for secondary schools to involve Year 7 in evaluating their arrangements for transition and to consult with Year 6 pupils on what would work for them. 
  • Secondary schools can feed in their transition ideas, i.e, school visits, teacher visits etc and see how highly the young people rate them. 
  • This approach will aid smooth transition and ensure all pupils are consulted and engaged. 
  • Young people can put in their own ideas so schools can see what they actually want. Those whose voices are often not heard will have a platform. 
  • The outcomes would identify those pupils who are worried about transition and those who are confident – very important information for schools to have. 
  • The data provided will ensure that transition planning directly responds to the views and identified needs of the pupils rather than just the good ideas of the schools. 
  • This approach also provides a perfect opportunity for schools to establish links and relationships with parents at a time when the vast majority of parents are worried about transition. By introducing Parent Voice all the parents of the next cohort of pupils have the opportunity to be involved in their children’s first encounter with the secondary school. 
  • It is well established that parental engagement with school is a high predictor of pupil attainment – schools can start how they mean to go on with transition. 

We will closely monitor St Illyds’ progress through our blogs and newsletters so we can all learn from their project. 

VocalEyes and School Transition