New Term, New School, New Challenges
As September draws to an end, we want to give a big well done and welcome to all of the young people, families and colleagues who have joined our academies this month!
We all know how challenging it can be to start somewhere new. That is why we invest time and resource in making a young person’s transition into our schools as smooth as possible.
The pandemic has made this more challenging this year, but building on what we know works our Family Footings Facilitators, Office and Class teams have been working incredibly hard to support every new student to settle into their surroundings. Here’s what we have learnt:
Focus on building relationships. We always start this as soon as possible! Due to the COVID restrictions we weren’t able to offer as many visits or tours of our schools as we normally would. So instead we made sure that every contact we had with a young person was focused on building the relationship between them and their class team.
“One of our new young people has entered sixth form and fitted right in. It almost feels like he has been with us for years which is lovely to see. He is flourishing and building relationships with staff. One of the things that has helped him to settle like this is the transition process. He began to build relationships with staff even before he began at the school. He knew the class teacher, he knew the HLTA and is learning to trust them which is great.”
Regular communication with young people and their families. This helps us build a profile of each individual and match them to the most suitable class and teacher. We’ve had to introduce a mix of virtual and face to face communication this year, although we know that nothing beats being able to talk in person.
Starting the process early. It takes time to adjust, so for some young people we start the settling in period at the end of the Summer Term with the aim of avoiding a build-up of anticipation or anxiety over the holiday.
Prioritising belonging and safety. Our priority is to help every young person feel welcome and safe in a school as quickly as possible and we maintain that focus for as long as it takes. The transition process doesn’t start and end in September, it can take many months of listening and adjusting.
Flexibility and creativity. The pandemic made it difficult to plan anything in advance with certainty. We found new ways to do things, sometimes at the last minute!
It is early days for this term’s cohort, but this feedback from a parent whose daughter has been with us for a year is testimony to our approach:
“I spoke to one mum whose daughter joined us last year and she couldn’t believe the progress her daughter had made in just one year. She engages more with them at home, she is so happy and friendly. She said ‘not in my wildest dreams would I have thought that it would have been possible for my daughter to achieve this level of happiness!’”