Starting at The Big School

Some parents have been caught off-guard by how quickly their children have settled in, and gained confidence in their new school, to the point that separation is taking place well-before the school gate!

With our new starters in Year 3, all 119 of them, coming in through the side gate, and with staff on the gate every morning, we have been able to make observations about the confidence level of those children.

In Nursery and Reception, settings want to establish relationships with children that allow a smooth, successful separation from the child’s adult each morning. It comes from the children having confidence in themselves, in their key adults in the setting and in their carers / parents.

In our context, being a Junior School, children have an extra transition to manage – as do parents. It can be a difficult time for a few. There are fears, mostly unjustified we find, that the child will be unhappy, unsettled, unsure in their new environment, and will need a lot of hand-holding.

It is, however, one of those things that can and does change as children progress into Key Stage 2 – the parent / carer can step back as the child really does know how school works.

On the first day of term all our Year 3 staff came out to receive their new classes. The children had visited last term and we had no staff change over the summer, so what they met then (in July) was the same as they met now (in September). That first day was just a reprise of where to go, which door to use, which cloakroom area is theirs and what the routine is in class.

By Tuesday this week I was seeing mums, dads and other responsible adults being a little taken aback by how freely everyone simply came into school. There were waves, and hugs and kisses, of course, but for many there was just a swift ‘bye’ and in they came. When I saw the parent looking askance I applauded them on having done such a good job – their child was ready for ‘big school’ and had such confidence in their parent that they knew they would be there at the end of the day. Job done.

We aren’t seeking to keep parents off the premises and out of school, per se, but this way of starting the day brings two distinct benefits – we get a swifter start to lessons, and children build vital independence, resilience and confidence. Our continued experience tells us that this is the way to do it.

It has been a very good start to the new school year – well done.

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