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Ipswich Opportunity Area sets up unified transition process for youngsters moving from nursery to primary school

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A unified transition plan for Ipswich and Felixstowe youngsters moving up from nursery or pre-school to primary school has been formed – with hopes that it will become the template across the whole of Suffolk in future years.

Ipswich Opportunity Area has been working with the Early Years Network to form a transition plan that aims to help childrens’ emotional wellbeing as they move up from pre-school or nursery.

It features a ‘common transfer document’ – a document specific to each child which contains key details such as any special educational needs requirements, behavioural and social skills, reading and writing barometers, medical needs and languages spoken among other pieces of information, to help primaries know what may be needed for that child as they join.

Buddy Bears as part of the Ipswich Opportunity Area early years transition. Picture: IOA (56870719)
Buddy Bears as part of the Ipswich Opportunity Area early years transition. Picture: IOA (56870719)

In addition, a series of ‘Buddy Bears’ have been provided which will provide continuity and a familiar face for youngsters. Each nursery or pre-school will have a bear with a knitted jumper in their classroom, with a bear in the same jumper being present in their new primary school classroom to provide familiarity.

An Early Years Conference is being held on June 7 with more information for schools, which aims to help recruit schools, pre-schools and nurseries from elsewhere in Suffolk to the scheme.

A spokesperson from Ipswich Opportunity Area said: “Closer working this year between nurseries and schools has been transformational, with staff telling us that they know much better how to support families as children move between settings.

The bears will provide continuity and a familiar face for youngsters. Picture: IOA (56870766)
The bears will provide continuity and a familiar face for youngsters. Picture: IOA (56870766)

“Early years practitioners and teachers have been able to share with each other the approaches they use to help children’s early development – and its not only about sharing expertise, they’ve been able to plan activities together which makes for a much better experience.

“Buddy Bear is a really visible example of this – he’s part of the storytelling in nursery about going up to ‘big school’ and he’s there in their classroom waiting for them in September. This consistency is so important to reassure children that the adults around them are working together to support them.

“This close working and collaborative planning has made for a really strong network and established relationships between schools and settings.

“We are keen to ensure that this can grow beyond the 34 schools and settings in the IOA project and become the norm. The conference on the 7th is our call to arms for colleagues in more schools and settings to join in.”

Other measures have been developed as part of the transition, which includes books with a series of activities linked to the Buddy Bears; handing out book bags with activities around motor skills, numeracy, literacy and other key skills; video materials such as introductions to the school and headteacher; flyers with essential information produced in 18 different languages; and outreach sessions.

It comes as part of a wider Transitions Charter established by the Ipswich Opportunity Area in Ipswich and Felixstowe which aims to make the transition across all levels of education as seamless and consistent as possible, regardless of school transferred from or to.

The charter is underpinned by four Cs – communication, collaboration, consistency and collective responsibility, with the purpose to make it easier for schools, pupils and parents to understand the change from early years to primary school, primary to secondary, or secondary to post-16.

To find out more visit www.ipswichopportunityarea.co.uk/transition-resources/