Welcome to the first issue of five e-newsletters going out between now and the end of September as part of our campaign to support all of our children to have a Strong Start in September when they return to school or college.
We have pulled together some useful resources which we will be sharing in these newsletters. Some will be great tools to share with families, others may be more useful for you and your colleagues as part of your own planning. We will also be offering advice and tips on social media, so please ask families to look out for #StrongStartSeptember and please share these posts so we can spread the word.
This week, we focus on planning successful transitions.
If you have any concerns regarding a young person’s emotional wellbeing following transition, please do talk to your link Educational Psychologist.
Thanks and wishing you all a great start to the new term.
Director of Education and Learning
Relational practice: beginnings and endings
“Let’s remember out loud what remains the same when life starts to feel wobbly for ourselves and for our children” Louise Bombér 2021
Care experienced children and young people may have had multiple losses and changes. This means that all transitions can trigger the emotions linked with these traumatic events. The change of routine and inevitable losses and separations bring back old feelings of abandonment and threat.
At the start of the new year it is important to reflect on how the changes, losses and novelty associated with transitions to new settings, year groups, classrooms, teachers can be carefully supported.
These are things to consider:
Use strategies to support transitions (structure, predictability, familiar objects / people; felt safety cues)
Regulation(access to sensory breaks, building trust in adults to feel safe, ‘held in mind’ and comforted)
Transition to a new school can be exciting, as well as stressful for children, especially after the uncertainty they experienced last year, or if this is their first time going into Reception year. You may be familiar with this earlier guidanceabout the transition to a new school for children who have an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) in place. Many of the strategies and resources are still relevant and can be helpful when supporting young people with EHCP in their first months in the new school.
Current research shows some children are more vulnerable during the transition than others, eg students who recently, or in the past, experienced trauma, students who previously struggled with their mental health wellbeing or those who have a difficult family situation. Recent studies show unsuccessful adaptation to a new school after transition can present as a challenging behaviour at the end of the second year in school, or the beginning of the third. The Boing Boing Resilience Framework and this video are helpful.
Support network and connectedness
You may wish to do some activities with students in their first year focused on supporting and building relationships/connectedness with their support network. Here are some useful resources you can use:
Worksheets to help young people understand what a support network is, who might be in their support network and how to make it even bigger and stronger.
You can also watch the interesting Yewlands Academy’s Transition Forest School idea, where prospective Y7 pupils build on their individual strengths outside the classroom.
Getting familiar with the school environment
This presentation has tips for helping with transition, such as getting familiar with the new school rooms, equipment, the school uniform and the journey to school.
Older children may enjoy more independent activities like taking pictures of their favourites spots. This transition booklet offers some ideas.
Younger children may like to bring transition objects to school. Fi Newood tells ushow she uses objects to help children feel safer in school.
Finally, you can see an animation and accompanying teacher toolkit on the Anna Freud website.
Keep a look-out for our SEND e-newsletter
The SEND newsletter brings information, support and news for families of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities. The content of the newsletter is co-produced by Dorset Council, professionals, partners and of course parents and careers.
Some of what we will be covering In the September edition include:
family-friendly information about the graduated response
an update on St Mary's School
Sharing results from the local offer consultation
If there is anything you would like us to talk about in the SEND newsletter please submit a request here.