North East projects will help children navigate move from primary to secondary school

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Schoolchildren in the North East will benefit from two projects aimed at helping them navigate the daunting move from primary to secondary school.

SHINE has invested more than £130,000 into school-led programmes on Tyneside and Teesside, through a partnership with regional schools’ network Schools North East.

The two projects are the first to be funded through the partnership, which is bringing investment of £500,000 to schools in the region. The projects are facilitated through the Ednorth programme which aims to inspire change in classrooms across the North East; promoting an educational culture led by informed debate, research, and collaboration.

Both projects will help to bridge the gap between primary and secondary education that can be challenging and stressful for many pupils -particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

A project at the NEAT Academy Trust, a partnership of five of primary and secondary schools in the east end of Newcastle, has received £57,300. Meanwhile a scheme run by the Endeavour Academies Trust, in Middlesbrough, has been awarded £74,000.

The Newcastle project focuses on the wellbeing and mental health of primary schoolchildren. It seeks to identify any pastoral issues that may lead to a child struggling with the move to secondary school.

The Middlesbrough initiative will see children from feeder primary schools attend greater-depth maths classes at Macmillan Academy. The sessions, led by a specialist maths teacher, will both increase the children’s knowledge of secondary maths and give them a flavour for life at secondary school.

Debi Bailey, CEO of the NEAT Academy Trust said she was “over the moon” to receive the funding. “With this project, we will be able to make a much earlier identification of young people who are struggling a little bit with things like self -confidence, or social skills,” she said. It will also enable us to be much more proactive in the support that we put in place for these children.

“The ultimate aim is to see a successful transition into secondary school, and beyond, because if children transition successfully, they are much more likely to be successful in class and therefore go on to future success after school.”

Amy Tumelty, Director of the Teaching School at Macmillan Academy, said their new initiative would help children and teachers in a number of ways.

“Firstly, it helps children to achieve greater depth in maths, and they become much more confident in answering tricky, problem-solving questions. Secondly, the children become used to working with students from different primary schools and they feel more confident about coming to a secondary school, which can be a scary move for them. Thirdly, the primary teachers and teaching assistants also attend the classes, so they become better equipped and more confident in teaching the greater depth maths topics that are really tricky if you’re not a maths specialist.”

A successful transition from primary to secondary school is so important for all children and it is often students from disadvantaged backgrounds who struggle most with the move. Covid has sadly only served to make transition much more challenging for these children. We are therefore delighted that the first two projects to receive grants from this fund will help hundreds of children to thrive when they move into secondary education.

Fiona Spellman CEO, SHINE

Both the Teesside and Tyneside projects have been adapted in the wake of the pandemic. Macmillan Academy will offer remote maths lessons to primary schools via Microsoft Teams. Meanwhile, the NEAT Academy Trust will use its project to help children returning to school from home learning.

Ms Bailey said: “I think transition is more important now than ever and we’ve really got to get it right. Yes, the learning is key, and children have got to have the ability to access the learning when they go into secondary but if they are to succeed, it’s about the relationships, their interpersonal skills and their resilience, their independence and their confidence.”

Fiona Spellman, CEO of SHINE, said: “A successful transition from primary to secondary school is so important for all children and it is often students from disadvantaged backgrounds who struggle most with the move. Covid has sadly only served to make transition much more challenging for these children. We are therefore delighted that the first two projects to receive grants from this fund will help hundreds of children to thrive when they move into secondary education.”

Chris Zarraga, Director of Schools North East said: “We are delighted to see the first projects receive funding and to be able to support North East schools in bringing their ideas to life through our partnership with SHINE.

“When the funding was first launched, we could not have anticipated Covid-19 or the huge difficulties that schools and students have faced in the past year, in particular the significant impact of lockdown and remote learning on disadvantaged students. To support these students going forward, we will need innovative approaches. This makes these projects all the more important to help support students from the beginning of their school journey through to the transition to secondary school.

“We have received overwhelming interest in Ednorth and the fund, and it is fantastic to see North East schools leading the way in exciting school-led research that will help us forge a classroom culture that is founded on evidence-based practice. We look forward to seeing how these first projects progress and hearing more from the schools throughout this year.

For more information about the SHINE grants for schools and the Ednorth programme, visit www.ednorth.uk