Easing the transition from Early Years to Pre-Prep

From the very beginning of their educational journey at our newly opened purpose built Early Years Centre, we aim to equip our pupils for future challenges, by making learning fun, enjoyable and accessible every day, while carefully preparing them for the next stage of their academic efforts.

Head of Pre-Prep Ms Alex Newell explains the importance of the transition from the Early Years to Pre-Prep.

 

Is the transition from Early Years to Pre-Prep School a significant one? What can pupils and parents expect from it?

Ms Newell: It’s significant in terms of the academic rigour of their lessons is stepped up, and pupils entering year 1 are coming to our main campus for the first time, where they will start to mix with a much larger pupil population covering a wider age range. It’s a new start and a new challenge, but one that we aim to make as exciting and enjoyable as possible.

What do you have planned to make the transition a welcome one?

Ms Newell: Firstly, our aim is to demystify the daily realities of Pre-Prep School as much as possible for our Early Years pupils now, before they enter year 1. We want to give them (and their parents) a very clear idea of what they can expect life in the Pre-Prep to be like, exposing them to all the new and exciting things they will get to explore, while providing plenty of familiar elements so they won’t think that their school lives are changing too much or too fast.

We would normally put together a series of visits planned for the Lent and summer terms where the Reception children come to visit the main campus. However, due to Covid 19 this has not been possible for this year. We will be arranging for the new Head of Year 1, Mr Michael Orchard to visit the current Reception children along with myself and other members of the year 1 team. We will also be providing the current Reception children with video recordings of the year 1 teachers introducing themselves and links to the teachers telling stories. The children can then see all their new teachers as many times as they so wish. It is important that all the children become familiar with the whole team of teachers as they go to different teachers for Mandarin, specialists, phonics and CCAs.

What preparations have you made to help familiarise EYC pupils when they visit?

Ms Newell: All Pre-Prep teachers have been involved in developing the outdoor area, with each of them being allocated an area – so we have a giant maths box, a dressing up area, shop, physical play box, dinosaur area and plenty more besides.

How important is it to make pupils feel at ease in their new learning environment, in terms of enabling an optimal education?

Ms Newell: Without the gradual transition that we’re providing, pupils can be left feeling detached from familiar things that they loved and enjoyed about school, which is clearly not a good mental place for learning and general wellbeing. By building their arrival into the Pre-Prep School as an exciting new adventure we can avoid all of that.

How do you prepare to make this new start applicable and tailored to each pupil as an individual?

Ms Newell: We are working closely with the Early Years team, who will prepare very thorough transition information for each child, complete with things like their academic level, reading level and social development needs. That’s shared with us well before the new year 1s arrive, so we can hit the ground running and get straight into giving them the appropriate learning opportunities they need.

How do you communicate with parents about your plans and expectations for their child in terms of daily routines, academic challenges and so on?

Ms Newell: During the summer term I ran an online presentation for all new parents where I covered expectations, curriculum content, routines, the role of specialist teachers, lunches and timetables. We also included practical ideas for developing English and maths skills throughout the summer holiday.

Of course, at every juncture we aim to make Wellington parents our partners in their children’s education. We will use our channels to give parents the information they need while always encouraging them to come to us with any questions they might have. We want both children and parents to feel as comfortable, confident and excited as possible about this big step forward in the pupils’ lives.

 

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