School transition tips for children with SEND
Author Maria Buttuller
Date 8th Jul 2022
For many children, the transition from one school to another is an exciting time, but often, for many children, particularly with SEND, these feelings are also accompanied by anxiety about how their needs will continue to be supported.
So what can schools do to help? It’s simple, forward planning and preparation for transition can help most children to settle in, get used to new routines, and develop their social skills. With the end of the school year now well underway, here are our tips to ensure a smooth transition for SEND pupils.
Early preparation is key
The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today, so start planning from Year 5 for children with SEND. Identify possible secondary schools and arrange visits for the child and parents/carers. Also, share real examples of school plans, homework planners and timetables from the new secondary school to help children understand what they look like and how to use them.
Where a pupil has an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan, the plan must be reviewed and amended with enough time before the pupil moves phases to allow for the new institution to plan and commission support and provision. After transition the EHC plan should be revised and adapted as necessary on an ongoing basis to make sure the pupil's needs are being met. You can find more information on this in paragraph 9.179 of the SEND Code of Practice.
Promote organisation and independence
When moving into the final year of primary school, plan sessions for introducing and practising skills for supporting transition. During the final year of primary school, the introduction of a diary or calendar is a great idea to help encourage children to think for themselves and organise their time. Practice with timetables and school plans will help the child to find their way around and what is expected with homework deadlines.
Sharing real examples of school plans, homework planners and timetables from the new secondary school are a great way to help children feel more confident and understand what they look like and how to use them. Visits to the new school and photos of the new staff can also help children.
Involve pupils in preparing for secondary school visits and taster sessions (e.g. use school brochures, maps, staff photos, or explore the school website) and in decisions about who might accompany or support them.
Don't forget the parents!
Engaged parents are an essential part of a smooth transition Share any transition plans with parents/carers so that they can understand the changes to routines and organisation. Invite parents to contribute so that they can continue with additional support into the start of secondary school.
Share with the new school
Primary school staff need to pass on information about children with SEND to the new school’s staff. Teachers and teaching assistants have a wealth of information about strategies that work well for certain pupils and the type of emotional support that they need. For children with EHCPs (Education Health and Care Plans) invite the secondary school SENCO to attend the primary school final annual review.
Secondary receiving schools
It’s essential for secondary schools to be involved in the transition process early on. Find out as early as possible on whether pupils have particular needs and ensure you make the necessary adaptations and adjustments before those pupils start at your school. Secondary schools can do this by:
- Reading school-based and EHC plans and profiles
- Gathering information on attendance and behaviour
- Talking to and meeting with key professionals at the feeder schools
- Ensure that the setting is accessible and that reasonable adjustments have been made to accommodate the new pupil's needs.
What are reasonable adjustments?
Under the Equality Act (2010), schools are required to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ for learners with SEND. But just what are ‘reasonable adjustments’? And how far should they go? In the Technical Guidance published by The Equality and Human Rights Commission in 2015, the ‘reasonable adjustment duty’ is described as:
‘The duty to… take positive steps to ensure that disabled pupils can fully participate in the education provided by the school, and that they can enjoy the other benefits, facilities and services that the school provides for pupils.’
Reasonable adjustments mean that education accessible for children with SEND is that effective, engaging teaching should work for everyone. This is a whole school responsibility and requires that the individual needs of students are known and activities are planned in advance to ensure that students are included and not put at a substantial disadvantage.
In summary, forward planning and preparation for transition will help ensure children settle in, get used to new routines, and develop their confidence, organisational and social skills.
The move from primary to secondary school marks an important step for all children and an organised joined up approach involving teachers, parents and children themselves, will help to alleviate some anxiety from the pupils and maybe even reassure their parents and carers too!
Looking for a succinct overview of the SEND Code of Practice? Try our FREE short course, designed for teaching professionals! We’ve cracked the 2015 Send Code of Practice into bitesize, accessible content so you can quickly comprehend your legal requirements to provide for children and young people (CYP) with SEND. Find out more about our SEND Code of practice course.
Find out more information on reasonable adjustments by reading our blog ‘What is meant by reasonable adjustment’
For more information on the SEND Code of Practice please visit the DFE website.
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Transition from Primary to Secondary is very stressful for both parent and child and we have found that having extra planned visits to the secondary school with both parents and teaching staff can benefit the child. Taking lots of photos of the new school environment and then making a transition booklet bespoke to the child can help too .