kidsPupils with special educational needs (SEN) in mainstream schools should be more involved in the transition process from primary to secondary school, the Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities (FPLD) has said.

This call was made as the FPLD launched its Moving On to Secondary School guidelines to support pupils with SEN to make the transition from primary to secondary school.

With more than half of pupils with statements of SEN placed in mainstream schools, the FPLD is offering 3 guides; for parents, teachers and easy-read guidance for year 6 pupils to help ease the process.

The guides were developed directly from the experiences and views of Year 7 pupils, as well as parents, teachers and SENCOs. Designed to provide parents and primary and secondary school teachers with practical suggestions, additional approaches and broader strategic ideas to better plan for transition, it is hoped the guides will bring about a positive new start for pupils with SEN.

The advice is applicable to all pupils and includes practical tips to help them prepare for secondary school. Ideas include: start thinking about getting organised when you are in primary school by taking more responsibility, pack your own bag for school, or start using a diary or timetable.

Stress of moving schools

Jill Davies, research programme manager at the FPLD, said: “We’ve heard from young people themselves how unnerving and stressful the move to secondary school can be, and while schools work hard to ensure the transition goes as smoothly as possible for pupils with SEN needs, it is high time they were put in the driving seat.

“By working with pupils to identify small, achievable steps in the journey, parents, teachers and SENCOs can work harmoniously to bring a greater sense of belonging to the school community and a positive impact on confidence and self-esteem for even the most vulnerable children.”

Ann Fergusson, senior lecturer in SEN and Inclusion at the University of Northampton, said: “Without the right preparation and support during this time of transition, pupils with SEN can experience emotional upheaval or distress.

“Putting pupils at the heart of the transition process and really involving them makes a real difference. It was inspiring to hear from pupils themselves about the very positive impact even small changes can make to their experiences. They had clear ideas about what helped them and about what would have helped even more.  As a result of greater involvement, pupils with SEN will be enabled to feel better prepared and more confident in their new surroundings; this then contributes to an improved sense of emotional wellbeing both in and outside the classroom.

“School staff and families very generously shared their insights and ideas for these resources to address the issues and challenges pupils with SEN told us about.”

The guidelines can be downloaded here.