Managing the Transition of Starting Primary School in England - Policies and Practices
Education for the English child is compulsory from the age of five through the age of sixteen. This compulsory primary education consists of two cycles (i.e., 'stages') which are identified as key stages.
Key stage 1 includes children in Years 1 and 2 of compulsory education (ages five to seven), and key stage 2 includes children in Years 3, 4, 5, and 6 (ages seven to eleven).
Throughout England, these key stages are the same; regardless the local school's organization or transfer ages.
The statutory requirements of the compulsory National Curriculum are laid down by central government, via the Department for Education and Skills (DfES). Generally, all publicly-funded primary schools must provide the National Curriculum to their students.
The National Curriculum does not, however, constitute the whole curriculum for schools, even though it is an important element of the school curriculum. Schools are expected to develop a whole school curriculum, which incorporates the full requirements of the National Curriculum, while also offering additional learning and other experiences to students which reflect their particular needs and circumstances.
Additionally, the National Curriculum (2000) documentation makes clear that the National Curriculum should be used as a framework by schools. Consequently, it is a matter for schools to decide how much time the National Curriculum should take.
Generally, in private primary schools in England, the curriculum and its assessment are the responsibility of the governors of the school and are not subject to the requirements of the National Curriculum.
Textbooks are not approved by the State and there are no prescribed texts at primary level. Textbooks are produced by commercial publishers and teachers are responsible for determining teaching methods and materials. Teaching methods and learning materials are therefore usually decided by the class teacher, in consultation with the headteacher and subject coordinators (classroom teachers, who, in addition, have responsibility for a particular subject area and who give help and guidance to their colleagues within the school).
Although compulsory booklists do not exist, in accordance with the requirements of the National Curriculum programmes of study for English, students in key stages 1 and 2 study a range of specified types of texts, including literature texts - traditional and modern fiction, stories from different cultures, plays, poems etc. - and non-fiction and non-literary texts. The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) provides advisory lists of recommended authors for teachers.
Relevance and importance of Current Research
There are many research programs currently underway in the UK for primary school children. Following are some of the best funded and well developed:
aspects of teaching and learning in the early and primary stages of education focusing on the impact of the National Curriculum on teaching styles and classroom interactions as well as pupil attitudes, motivations and performance;
issues connected with school improvement related to understanding the nature and extent of improvement as well as the conditions influencing it;
the contribution of 'pupil voice' and the theorizing of links between pupil participation and performance;
the study and practices of school inspection and self-evaluation; and the particular challenges facing disadvantaged schools;
the processes of teaching and teacher development with particular reference to developing greater understanding of the nature of effective teaching and the ways in which teachers, in partnership with others, may be helped to develop greater expertise;
studies which draw on the disciplines of history, philosophy, and sociology to develop critical understanding of key issues in education, focusing particularly on citizenship education, gender, social justice and teachers' professional identity;
analyses both of what children read and how they make sense of what they read with particular reference to learning from the child's perspective, the development of critical literacy and, most recently, the nature of visual literacy;
teaching and learning in different subjects of the school curriculum ranging across issues about the nature of subjects, research-based approaches to subject pedagogy, teacher and student conceptions of subject matter and learning activity, the re-conceptualization of subjects to generate greater interest amongst young people and the development of technology to facilitate subject learning; most school subjects are represented with a particularly sizeable grouping of researchers in mathematics; and inclusive education with particular reference to the ways in which intervention strategies can be developed to enhance educational opportunity and entitlement for children and adults described as having learning difficulties.
Significant directives are currently in place to address the educational requirements for students, but there appears to be a paucity of empirical data in the literature regarding the impact of teacher sensitivity to transitional phases for young children.
Most of these directives focus on the transitional phases between primary, middle, and high school children citing the importance for faculty and school administrators to be sensitive to the differing needs of freshmen and transfer students by providing a variety of support programs to assist with academic and social difficulties some students encounter;
urban school district officials need to balance autonomy to meet local instructional demands with efforts to standardize curricular programs to provide all students with access to rigorous academic programs; and longitudinal studies that span large periods of individuals' school careers will increase our understand how school transitions continually shape opportunities for learning and academic success.
It is evident from this list that a research study on the impact primary teachers have on the new student can have significant contributory benefits to not only the education process, but in teacher retention and satisfaction as well.
Where fieldwork is carried out brief indication of research approach and techniques how research was conducted
CHAPTER 1 - TRANSITION IN EDUCATION
Improving Classroom Practices
Childhood Classroom Performance
Teacher Style and Confidence
CHAPTER 2 - TEACHER'S RECOGNITION OF NEED FOR SENSITIVE TRANSITION
CHAPTER 3 - EFFECTS OF EARLY EXPERIENCES IN SCHOOL
The UK's National Literacy Trust has developed a study on the effects of early intervention and parental involvement on children's literacy and later intervention and parental involvement on children's literacy and later educational attainment.
Little surprise in the findings: research evidence suggests that if ldren are exposed to what Tim Brighouse calls a 'rich wash' of nursery rhymes, language, books and songs, their readiness and interest in literacy will be increased. Research has conducted trials on the effect of early intervention programs in the form of nursery provision (i.e., the High Scope project) or the introduction of a book into the home (i.e., the Bookstart program), and found this to be positive. There are also some research studies (see Weinberger, Wells) which have emphasized the importance of children enjoying books at home.
Gordon Wells in The Meaning Makers (1986) traced children's literacy development on a long-term basis. The Bristol language Development Program findings revealed a significant relationship between home background and literacy experience. Wells concluded that children who were supported by their parents at home were more confident and fluent readers at school.
High Scope is a pre-school curriculum which has its origins in the United States. The curriculum provides opportunities for children to explore and act upon their environment, to reflect upon their experiences and to have meaningful conversations with adults and other children.
In the 1960s there was concern that children from low income families were not succeeding as well as they might. A longitudinal project, the Perry Pre-school Project, was set up under the direction of David Weikart to find out if pre-school education can make a long-term difference to children's well being.
The High-Scope Perry Pre-school Project followed a selection of a group of three and four-year-olds born in 1962 and then monitored achievement, motivation, and social behavior. At age 19, High Scope participants were found to have experienced less failure throughout schooling and were found to be more socially responsible.
The Effective Early Learning Research Project
The Effective Early Learning Research Project is a national research and development initiative which aims to evaluate and improve the quality of early learning in a wide range of education and care settings throughout the UK.
The team has documented improvements in the quality and effectiveness of early learning for a cohort of 21,500 three and four-year-old children and their parents in more than 850 education and care settings in the UK.
It has also conducted trials with training and professional development materials and developed a national training program. Out of this has come a database on the quality of early learning, which will form a central part of the emerging national analysis of learning in early childhood settings.
How Teachers Affect in Positive Ways
Clearly, researchers, headmasters, teachers, and parents can see how important and effective early childhood education and experiential exposures are to the lifetime of a child. This research will take the aforementioned evidentiary base and build upon it to demonstrate how teachers - using sensitivity approaches and methodology to transition phases from home to school - will be fundamental to awakening a life-long love for learning in the child.
Some ways the Primary School teacher makes positive…