Systems Redesign – Avoiding the Dip at Points of Transition

Making strategic and systematic changes to how transition is managed will make a dramatic difference to the progress learners make over time. There is a well-researched and universally acknowledged dip in performance of learners as they move from primary to secondary school. Shockingly, this can be anything up to a 40% drop in attainment. Imagine turning that downward curve around through highly interactive partnerships, focused academic and pastoral planning and the design of a sequential curriculum that guarantees seamless learning.

There are similar catastrophic losses to learning at every point of transition. Take moving from school to college or sixth form. GCSEs over and the next stage in learning unfolding. How is learning captured as part of the foundation for the new? To what extent do teachers new to these students determine the skills learners have, where the gaps in learning are and what their motivation is for their chosen pathway?

Transition from key stage 1 to 2 produces a similar albeit less dramatic dip in performance. The imperative is to explicitly design the curriculum so that year 1,2, 3 and 4 dovetail together and build a successive and inter-woven curriculum offer that builds on prior learning and leads to clearly defined outcomes in readiness for upper key stage 2.

The years that make up key stage 3 are still seen by many, including OFSTED, as the lost or wasted years, the emphasis for many school leaders is on the next key stage where exam accountability is the main driver. Creating a curriculum and pedagogical revolution that ignites deep learning in years 7,8 and 9 reaps astonishing benefits by the end of year 11.

Following on from my last newspost ‘Mind the Gap – Step up not catch up’, I want to look in detail at some of the systems changes that will create a lasting legacy to resolving the issues that diminish opportunities for learners to make consistent progress from early years to post 16 and beyond. Deciding that ‘Catch up’ is the goal is an energy sapping and de-motivating hiding to nowhere. It will take an age to find out what is missing? who is missing what? who has continued to learn well? The answer is to focus on what has been learnt and how to build a future that fosters a deep motivation to want to learn.

New research is slowly being published that shows where some of the gaps are being highlighted. It is clear that the inequalities that were apparent before the pandemic continue to be pretty much the same now. Lower attainment in Maths and reading are highlighted. Would this have been different if the pupils had not lost time in the classroom? Dwelling on the past is not helpful. We will never resolve the issues of inequality and gaps in learning by looking backwards.

So, it is with renewed passion for positive change that I start our series we have called ‘Systems Redesign’ with the conundrum of transition which creates very similar losses in learning, interruption of the rhythm of learning and a loss of identity and self-esteem.

Wherever you are on the learning journey make sure transition is a key element of your systems redesign that will guarantee that there is no lost learning when learners move from one key stage to the next. We have a suite of courses to support you wherever you are supporting learners to make that leap across the transition bridge.