Transition from primary to secondary school

Last week Maria who teaches music at Wimbledon College spent a day with me at St Teresa’s. It was great to talk to her about what happens at Wimbledon College and I hope it was interesting for Maria seeing how we teach music at St Teresa’s.

Managing the transition from primary to secondary throws up some thorny issues. It is not uncommon for a secondary school in London to have 25 feeder primary school. Most music in primary schools is taught by the class teacher who is not a music specialist who has a raft of data to hand on. Music generally comes very low down on the list of priorities.

So does it matter? Is is important enough that we need to get ourselves organised to sort out some good practise for ourselves?

If it does matter how can we overcome some of the practical problems?

I think we should start by having an honest conversation between primary and secondary. Primary teachers need to be convinced it is a worthwhile area for them to get involved with. Although I am sure every year 6 teacher wants to ensure that there students get the best start in secondary school it can be difficult to be motivated to teach a specific topic/song because the secondary schools want you to.

Similarly I imagine a secondary school teacher receiving lesson plans/school reports in different formats from over 20 feeder schools is unlikely to use them meaningfully to organise their first terms teaching.

Here are some thoughts I have come up with from a primary teacher perspective

1. It is about relationships – not protocols and forms. If I have at least met or am in digital contact with the music teachers in secondary school I am more likely to feel motivated to take part. Invite us to your concerts.

2. We should make better use of blogs and school VLE’s. I might not be able to get out with all my kids to visit your school but I can almost certainly show them video clips, get them to leave concerts on your school music blog. If secondary school students and staff left comments on our school music blogs on our compositions or performances it would create a real buzz. This week I am planning on getting my year 6 students to write up their musical highlights of their time at primary school and I shall email a link to it to all our secondary school music departments.

3. Any “paperwork” we come up with has to be completed by the children and not the staff! I am toying with the notion of creating musical passports for kids to keep records of their different musical experiences which would include home as well as school events. I think it would be helpful for children to reflect on but would it help you secondary teachers?

4. Could we use “Sing Up”. I don’t know how much it is used by KS3 but I can tell you that Sing up songs are incredibly prolific in primary schools, (even in schools that don’t actually buy it!)  This would make a great easy transition project.

5.The ISM have produced a guide to transition from key stage to key stage 3 which is well worth a read. The reason I like it that it rejects a one size fits all approach in favour of lots of practical ideas. Could we use this as a starting point?
 

John Kelleher, Director of Music at Wimbledon College and Musical Futures Champion and I will be hosting a Musical Futures twitter chat on this very subject this Wednesday 25th June at 8.30 pm. Be sure to use the hashtag #Mufuchat so we can find you!

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