Thanks to Ruth Duckworth, Year 6 Teacher/Writing Lead at Christ Church C of E Primary School, for this really insightful piece full of handy hints and tips for transitioning your Year 5s into Year 6.

The Year 6 SATs are over for another year; writing pieces will soon complete the end of Key Stage 2 assessments and many staff will breathe more easily for a few weeks – until ‘data day’ in early July. So, many of you will be thinking about the next cohort to come into Year 6.

Transitioning from Year 5 into Year 6

Current good practice in many schools sees Year 5 pupils starting to work with their soon-to-be Year 6 teachers before the summer break. There may not be much of a break for teachers fresh from SATs cramming in the core subjects, but when the Year 6 teaching year is not ‘a year’ (with SATs in May), making accurate teacher assessments this summer term is vital.  Also, the building of close working relationships with pupils now, ready for September, can certainly be of great benefit for staff and pupils alike. In our case, Year 5 is a much more challenging cohort of pupils than the one we taught this year, both in terms of academics and behaviour. For the first time, we feel it necessary to greatly extend our usual ‘move-up day’ plans.  We scheduled end of Year 5 summer term assessment tests in late May, so we are now able to have a six-week block of consistent teaching and gap filling for Year 5 pupils in June and July. Our strong Year 6 staff team will be largely based in Year 5 in the mornings, from immediately after the half-term break.

Approaching the English Curriculum

In English, we will be working with a class text, with many visual literacy links, as this is an effective way to engage pupils as well as extend both reading and writing skills.  We are fortunate that with some re-gigging of staffing from across Key Stage 2, not only will the Year 6 teachers be leading the planning and teaching of the summer term two’s block of work for English and Mathematics, but that for most of the lessons the existing Year 5 teachers and support staff will remain in their classrooms as well. In this way, staffing ratios will be boosted, pupils will have small group support more often, and the staff can receive effective CPD from more experienced teachers. We will be boosting from within – using best practice to team teach, support and push progress forward.

To improve both grammar and writing standards, we need an accurate picture of the pupils’ basic grammar knowledge – particularly their ‘grammar vocabulary’ and knowledge of word classes and terms. It was a challenge this year to ‘catch-up’ vocabulary with a Year 6 who had not had the new national curriculum expectations and standards in place when they were taught further down the school. There were numerous gaps in pupils’ knowledge of lower key stage 2 (Years 3/4) content, for example their understanding (plus application and spelling) of the masses of homophones and prefixes/suffixes found in Appendix 1. Working through basics this term will hopefully ensure that some of the gaps still noticeable (spotted during writing moderation) have been filled by September.

Approaching the Mathematics Curriculum

In maths, our focus will be on arithmetic first and foremost. Embedding the four basic calculations is key to building and continuing to build on mathematics skills. It is our aim to ensure that multiplication and related and derived number facts are secure.  Also, that pupils have a sound understanding of place value, e.g. multiplying and dividing by 10/100/1000 as well as exploring how decimals, fractions and percentages are related to each other. By securing some fundamentals now, before the summer break, we will then hopefully be able to move onto maths reasoning more quickly in Year 6 – which is where the mastery comes in.

Accurately assess and boost basic skills

And so, one of our top school priorities now – before the summer break – is to both teacher assess accurately and boost basic skills in Year 5 as much as we can, while we can. Who better to do this, than the Year 6 team who will be teaching these pupils in September?

 

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