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Stansted's Forest Hall School helps new pupils prepare for their first year at secondary

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New Year 7s joining Stansted's Forest Hall School this week have been gifted reading books to help ease their transition to secondary school.

And for the first time, a dedicated transition lead has been appointed to help the new starters settle in.

With schools closed to the majority of students since March as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the transition of Year 6 children at primary school into their first year at secondary has had to be adapted, so a raft of initiatives has been put into place to smooth the transition, including the choice of reading book given to each child.

Transition gift for Grigoris (39039636)
Transition gift for Grigoris (39039636)

Those due to start on Thursday (September 3) have been in regular contact with Forest Hall, thanks to the newly appointed transition lead.

Erin O’Dell, acting associate head of school, said: “This is the first time we've had a dedicated transition lead, which has meant we've been able to do more in terms of transition, despite the crisis.

“We would normally have had more opportunities to meet our new students and their parents face to face. But as that is not allowed to happen right now, we're opening up communication in different ways.

“We've given students a reading book each as we believe reading is important and this is our way of showing our expectations from the very start.”

The school has also:

  • sent postcards to welcome students
  • produced welcome packs, including a pencil set
  • sent a letter to students from head of school Hannah Jones
  • launched a weekly transition newsletter to keep families up to date with developments, advise parents on how best to prepare their children for the move, give guidance on uniform, outline term dates and the structure of the school day, and share inspirational quotes
  • set up a dedicated email address giving parents of children with special educational needs direct access to extra support
  • sent letters from heads of houses to introduce them to students, and
  • set subject challenges in English, maths and science, as well as emotional well-being tasks.

Miss O’Dell said: “We have a very inclusive environment and our ethos is about aspiring to be exceptional. We want our new cohort to feel welcome at Forest Hall School, from now and not just from the moment they walk through our doors.

"We want them to know that while they're leaving their primary schools, they're joining our family. We want them to feel that from the moment they receive their welcome letter.

“It's very daunting to go back to their own school under these circumstances, let alone going into a new school. That is why we are making sure it is a smooth and supportive process."

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