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Year 6 leavers – Covid-safe transition activities and ideas

It’s been a chaotic year but Year 6 children still deserve the best ending to their primary school journey that we can give them, says Sophie Bartlett...

  • Year 6 leavers – Covid-safe transition activities and ideas

At the end of March 2020 I gathered my Y6 pupils together in the hall (those remaining, anyway, after numbers began to dwindle with various self-isolations) for a chat.

I promised I wouldn’t let any child leave school without the goodbye they deserved, albeit inwardly telling myself I would see them again in a few weeks anyway. Oh, how little did I know!

Weeks turned into months and before I knew it, I was sending out virtual ‘silly SATs’ papers and organising for the local secondary’s head of Y7 to visit our Y6s in a socially distanced meeting on our field. A year on, we may be in a similar position but this time we’re wiser and more prepared.

Here are some ways to make the last months of Y6 special for your class, despite the circumstances.

Year 6 transition idea – Silly SATs

There are many reasons to be glad SATs are cancelled this year. However, SATs week is often seen as a sort of ‘rite of passage’ for many Y6 children.

Some schools may want to continue to use this as an assessment point, although I’d personally wait until later in the year to coincide with the assessment timings of the rest of the school and allow for full curriculum coverage (rather than having to cram it all in before May – who’s missed that?!).

There are ways to still make what would have been SATs week an event in the Y6 calendar, depending on your context, of course.

If conducted sensibly, it could be a good experience for kids to sit tests in exam conditions – after all, there is something about this practice that seems to make Y6 children feel more mature than the rest of the school.

Alternatively, you could mark the actual week itself with ‘silly SATs’: quizzes and questions based on other aspects of the curriculum that the children might prefer to the real thing!

Leavers assembly – put on a show

A Y6 production might not be as untenable as it was last year, even if your disco-themed musical production complete with a show-stopping leavers song finale has to take place on the school field.

This obviously depends on your bubble sizes, but as a small school, we are lucky enough to be able to go ahead.

Our plan is to practise our play both outdoors and in the hall (you can almost count on it raining on our chosen performance dates), with the hope that parents and guardians will be seated in households in a socially distanced manner on the playground.

We’re planning to put in extra dates so that everyone will have a chance to attend – now let’s just hope that the technology holds up outside the school building…

New school – connect with secondaries

With primary schools sending their children to a variety of secondary schools, and with secondaries accepting children from a wide range of primaries, the risk of mixing bubbles during transition days is high. Virtual visits can only achieve so much.

However, luckily one of our local secondaries is aware that more is needed. Each department has set an ‘assignment’ for Y6 children to complete across the summer term.

These are entirely optional, but it gives pupils a chance to create a connection with their secondary school and experience what content they may be covering when they reach Y7.

Arguably the main differences from Y6 to Y7 are the regular changes in teachers and classrooms. Depending on your school environment, this is something you could give the children an experience of before they leave.

Teacher Emily Weston – experienced in all things transition – recommends trialling a ‘secondary week’.

This involves different members of staff teaching a subject of their choice; even better if this involves classroom changes too.

Replace residentials

I know of schools with residentials booked since last year who are holding out hope they can still go ahead – fingers crossed! For the rest of us, it’s still possible to create an exciting and bonding experience that lots of fun for the children in a different way.

Try an ‘experience week’ with different trips, visitors or events and a passport for the children to stamp each day. It won’t replace a trip away, but will still create something unique for Y6 to mark the end of an era for them and their friends.

There are many ways you can still make the end of Y6 special for this cohort – and make it special we must. These kids have missed out on half a year of school and deserve the best ending to their primary school journey that we can give them.

Sophie Bartlett is a Y5/6 teacher in an English primary school. Follow her on Twitter at @_missiebee. Visit her website at missiebee1.wordpress.com.

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