The One-Eighty Transitions Project

Young people have been strawberry picking at a local farm!

Young people have been strawberry picking at a local farm!

At One-Eighty, the summer holidays bring with them the Summer Project. The Project is broadly divided into two sections, the first of which supports young people who have made progress throughout the academic year but who are at risk of slipping back over the long break. The second section is the Transition Project, which supports looked-after children in their transition from Year 6 to Year 7. Young people on the Transition Project have four one-on-one sessions with One-Eighty, bridging the gap between schools. All young people on the Summer Project participate in group trips, providing them with an opportunity to socialise with peers outside of the traditional academic environment.

The transition to secondary school is significant for young people. Research shows that progress stalls in 40% of students following the transition from primary to secondary[1]. The move from Year 6 to Year 7 coincides with the onset of puberty, which brings with it physical, emotional, and cognitive changes, so it is tempting to speculate that this may be the reason why the transition is so challenging. Despite this, school transitions in other educational systems where the transition has not coincided with puberty have also been found to negatively impact academic performance[2]. This indicates that transition is meaningful for all young people in its own right, not just when combined with the onset of puberty.

However, for those who do not have secure attachments, and whose lives have been saturated with change, the primary-secondary transition is critical. Looked-after children have been identified as a more vulnerable group: they are less likely to be academically successful and are up to twice as likely to experience bullying[3]. Researchers have found that those with lower grades, along with those who experience bullying are much less likely to experience a successful transition[4]. Furthermore, looked-after children are particularly sensitive to times of change and have the potential to change their behaviour significantly - for better or worse – at this stage[5]. Looked-after children may therefore benefit from the positive guidance provided by the Summer Project. Similarly, healthy attachments have been found to ease the stress of transitions[6], and for those who do not have stable relationships, those formed with teachers may be even more significant[7]. For this reason, it is important to identify key points of contact in secondary school and support looked-after children in forming healthy relationships as early as possible. One of One-Eighty's aims is to act as a familiar face during the transition. The Summer Project team liaises with secondary schools and their Designated Teachers so that young people who may find it difficult to ask for help can be pointed in the right direction instead of struggling alone. Not only does this foster healthy attachments and encourage young people to feel comfortable seeking help, it also allows teachers to monitor progress and problems.

Finally, it has been found that the effects of transition are not transitory, rather the primary to secondary transition has a lasting impact on academic success and pupil well-being[8], and positive transitions have favourable long-term effects on young people’s ability to deal with future challenges[9]. During the summer holidays, while teachers are out of the equation, children are in contact with fewer professionals and they may find themselves feeling isolated or abandoned. For this reason, One-Eighty, with the assistance of the Virtual School, have identified the primary to secondary step and the break that bridges it as a potentially challenging time, and aim to provide extra cushioning. One-Eighty identifies specific targets for each young person and discusses their worries about leaving one school and moving to the next. Although worries surrounding secondary school are found to dissipate over the first year of secondary school[10] we hope to ease the stress of transition, to make it a positive experience in order that our young people may be better equipped to deal with future challenges.

Please note, referrals for the Transition Project are received from the Oxfordshire Virtual School, however, for any enquiries please see the Referrals tab, or phone the office on 01865 236869.

[1] Galton, M. (2000). School Transitions and Transfers. International Journal of Educational Research, 33(4) pp.319-449.

[2] West, P., Sweeting, H. and Young, R. (2008). Transition matters: pupils’ experiences of the primary–secondary school transition in the West of Scotland and consequences for well‐being and attainment. Research Papers in Education, 25(1), pp.21-50.

[3] Brewin, M. and Statham, J. (2011). Supporting the transition from primary school to secondary school for children who are Looked After. Educational Psychology in Practice, 27(4), pp.365-381.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Rice, F., Frederickson, N. and Seymour, J. (2011). Assessing pupil concerns about transition to secondary school. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 81(2), pp.244-263.

[7] Ibid.

[8] West, P., Sweeting, H. and Young, R. (2008). Transition matters: pupils’ experiences of the primary–secondary school transition in the West of Scotland and consequences for well‐being and attainment. Research Papers in Education, 25(1), pp.21-50.

[9] Brewin, M. and Statham, J. (2011). Supporting the transition from primary school to secondary school for children who are Looked After. Educational Psychology in Practice, 27(4), pp.365-381.

[10] West, P., Sweeting, H. and Young, R. (2008). Transition matters: pupils’ experiences of the primary–secondary school transition in the West of Scotland and consequences for well‐being and attainment. Research Papers in Education, 25(1), pp.21-50.

Amelia Hartley