IT’S a daunting time of year for many thousands of Huddersfield youngsters.
The move to “Big School” is looming, with primary schoolchildren about to embark on a new adventure.
They will leave behind the safe security of small primary schools, often with only a few dozen children, to move in September to the big wide world of high schools, with often well over 1,000 students.
Schools put in an enormous amount of hard work to make that transition as smooth and as trouble-free as possible, both for the youngsters and for their families.
A good example is at Rastrick High School, where the work of staff such as Deborah Adamson and her colleagues have earned the school an outstanding reference in an Ofsted report.
They appreciate how traumatic the move can be for many youngsters and have set up a programme which works not only with children in their final days or weeks at primary school, but a whole two years in advance.
Deborah, who has been at Rastrick for nine years, said: “We have a very forward-thinking headteacher in Helen Lennie who appreciates that work needs to be done on the transition.
“I myself went through the process when I arrived at Rastrick, moving to a school with 1,400 students from a very small primary.
“For many children the move to high school is a time of worry and we work hard to rid them of those concerns.
“Very often, high school staff are not always aware of what primary staff do and vice versa, so we have set up a scheme where we work closely with all our feeder primary schools well in advance.
“We get to work with the Year 5 children in those schools, some two years before they move, and set up projects for them involving the high school.
“When they are in Year 6, I go in to each of the primary schools several times and run lessons, so they get to know me as a familiar face.
“We also get them into the high school on a regular basis and run quizzes and other projects for them.
“The biggest worry for many of the children is the fear they will get lost in a high school campus. To counteract this we run fun map-reading sessions and have quizzes about the school layout.
“We also have a ‘buddy’ system for the children who are moving up from the primary schools. They are paired up with an older child already at high school to help them settle in.
“In some cases we use students from the Upper School, who have gone through the same process some years earlier and gone on to be successful.
“We also hold ‘Moving On Up’ sessions for the families. They are invited into school and along with their children take part in events with a fun theme.
“They get to see many of the activities that are run out of school hours, such as the gardening club, the wheelchair basketball, the sport and the fun science sessions”.
Rastrick will take in 240 new students in Year 7 in September.