It is recognised that all children and young people will be transitioning as they return to school. All children and young people transition into their next year of early learning and childcare, school or into life after school each year.
This year, in addition to those ‘usual changes’ the way in which they learn, and where they learn will also change. In the current context making the transition back to a school setting that feels very different will mean that all learners may benefit from transition support upon their return.
There are a range of sources of advice available on supporting learners through points of transition, much of which has been developed or updated in light of COVID 19. Education Scotland has developed a range of materials to support transition at each age and stage.
Through formal reviews health visitors explore attainment of individual developmental milestones and where developmental needs are not being met, for whatever reason they will seek to engage relevant and proportionate support to address unmet need. They will work with families and with relevant Education partners to support a smooth transition to school recognising the individual health and wellbeing needs of children.
Transitional support for children and young people with additional support needs
For children and young people who experience barriers to their learning, managing the transitions carefully and sensitively is vital. In particular, additional support for learning legislation requires that education authorities support the transitions of children and young people with additional support needs. These responsibilities apply for the transitions from early learning and childcare into primary schools, from primary school to secondary school, from secondary school into further or higher education, work or other post-school provisions, and include statutory timescales. It is essential that young people are supported to progress onto the next stage of their lives. In considering any requests to delay transition to the next year, or into post-school provision, all of the circumstances of the child or young person should be taken into account, including whether a negative impact of delaying transition may occur, for example arising from social isolation and the need to engage a new peer group.
In the current circumstances, and as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic, some of those plans for transitions may not have been able to be completed. For post-school transition, where planning should begin no later than two years prior to leaving, planning should be well advanced, and should be able to be resumed and completed. For other transitions, where the timescales are shorter, and due to the timing of the COVID-19 pandemic in the academic year, more work may be required, quickly. This means that the planning should be completed, as soon as practicably possible.
Pupils with additional support needs often benefit from enhanced transition. This is usually provided through extra school visits, to become familiar with the school building and opportunities to meet staff and other pupils, including where used ‘buddies’. Whilst there may be some opportunities to continue with these activities, they may have to be carried out in a different way. For example, using video, phone conversations, and technology to link pupils together, and visits arranged to schools in line with physical distancing guidance. This may also apply to children and young people who have been required to shield, and who therefore have not been attending school in person.
For some children and young people with additional support needs, who require specific communication supports, for example the use of sign language, Makaton, storyboards and symbols, these should be used as they would usually. Some children and young people may benefit from the preparation of a storyboard, containing photographs of key locations, their teaching, support and transport arrangements, and information to explain how learning will be different at school (for example, where a staff member may require to or wish to wear a face covering, or personal protective equipment). These approaches using additional visual reinforcement of key information, whilst not required, may be beneficial for all young people, and may be a positive learning activity.
Community learning and development (CLD), youth work and adult learning
In considering support for transition, education authorities may wish to also consider the support available through Community Learning and Development services as part of their local delivery plan. CLD, which includes youth work and adult learning is provided by local authorities, other statutory services and the third sector, and the youth work offer is coordinated by local authorities through a statutory CLD plan.
The types of support they can offer include:
- youth workers can provide an alternative trusted relationship for young people through both one to one and group support. Youth work is often targeted to individuals and communities furthest from engagement or inclusion
- CLD services often also include family learning, adult learning and ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages). These can be useful in supporting parents and carers to engage with the school and with their children’s learning
- many schools have youth and family learning workers working directly in the school but there are also many services which operate out with the school. These services are especially useful in reconnecting some vulnerable children and young people to reconnect with education
- CLD workers can also provide information and practical and emotional support to children, young people and parents and carers through transitions and, in partnership with other professionals, can support a holistic approach to meeting their needs