Successful transitions for pupils with SEND (Part 2)

This article was written for SEN Leader magazine and first published in July 2017.  You can find out how to access the full article on the SEN Leader website here.  


This is the second part of a 2-part article for SEN Leader magazine on managing school transition for pupils with SEND. You can read the first part here.  


So far we’ve talked about improving transition in general terms. The question remains, however, how can we improve transition for pupils with SEND?

Firstly, collaboration between primary and secondary schools needs to take place both before and after pupils with SEND transfer from primary school…

The Department for Education conducted research in 2008 across seven local authorities involving forty-seven primary and secondary schools (including some special schools) in order to explore what could strengthen their transfer and transition practices.

Their report concluded that effective transfer did not involve one key stage ‘doing’ transfer to the next, but an equal partnership that had professionally developed all stakeholders.

Galton et al. (1999, 2003) also highlighted the importance of Year 6 and Year 7 teachers working together to plan and teach ‘bridging units’ (projects which were started towards the end of Year 6 and completed at the start of Year 7) in order to help inform and personalise the pupil transfer experience.

Other examples of effective collaboration might include planning schemes of work that promote curriculum continuity and a consistency of teaching and learning styles. It might include the facilitation and support of local cross-phase networking meetings of families of schools to jointly plan for strengthening transfer and the joint working between teachers in different key stages to promote an understanding of pupils’ abilities and levels of knowledge.

Secondly, there needs to be effective communication between schools and pupils with SEND and their parents.

Effective communication between teachers from different school phases can be achieved by arranging regular visits by secondary teachers to primary school and, in return, visits by primary teachers to secondary school. These visits can take many forms including: Talks to pupils in assemblies and form time about their respective schools; taster lessons, especially opportunities for pupils to experience secondary school facilities such as science labs and design and technology workshops; teachers working together to plan lessons and discuss curriculum design, as well as observe each other in the classroom; teachers organising CPD sessions and teaching and learning conferences together, as well as professional dialogue and the dissemination of research findings and materials, and the sharing of good practice.

Effective communication with parents can be achieved by involving parents in a school’s preparation for transition and by developing their understanding of the culture of the new school, helping them understand what to expect. In practice, this might include promoting and enhancing the role of parent/carer partnerships such as through the use parent/carer advisers as explained by Greenhough et al. in their 2007 paper and by the DCSF in 2008. It can also be achieved through the use of parent voice mechanisms which gather, monitor and evaluate parental views in relation to transfers and transitions and give feedback and updates to parents showing how the school has listened to and responded to parents’ questions and concerns.

Effective communication with pupils can be achieved by providing information about what to expect at each stage of the transfer process and where and who to go to for help or to have questions answered, as explained by Sanders et al (2005). It can also be achieved by ensuring that pupils are involved in the transition process at all stages, and are well informed of what to expect in their new school, as outlined by Schulting et al. (2005) and LoCasale-Crouch et al. (2008)…

To continue reading this article, visit the SEN Leader website.


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