Transitions for 2021 – who will be losing out and how do we reach them?
We wrote a blog back in April this year outlining some ideas for schools in case open days had to be virtual again for everyone. While writing it, and bearing in mind the roadmap out of lockdown we were aware of at the time, we did not really expect to be revisiting this as part of full transition needs for schools this year too. My own child’s school had just announced their very cautious plans for transition for my eldest (off to the Junior school across the road from his current infants) and we had thought they would go ahead. However the pushback of the easing of all social distancing has now moved to 19th July. Schools have decided to not even try and squeeze something in after that date as it may end in just more disappointment.
Like my son’s school, you may also be considering your options at this point. What will the transition look like? We have some ideas for you in the blog mentioned above, but it is worth thinking about all the ways your website can support transition for all. We also are thinking ahead to what September may involve.
I have a younger son, also, who will be moving from the school nursery to the school Reception class. I am in a very fortunate position. Firstly, I already have my eldest child at the school so I know it well enough. For his reception year and part of Year 1 I had the opportunity to visit many times, and I also have met the teachers many times. And as my eldest goes to the Junior school in September I am also lucky that I used to be a school governor there so I know many of the staff and know the layout and general expectations of the school. I can answer my son’s questions and I can picture what he is talking about when he visits. Even though I would love to get through the doors with him this year to have a look around his new classroom, I know I am more privileged than many.
What about the parents who have never set foot in the school? What about those parents who have already been dropping off their children for nearly a year without ever having stepped into their child’s classroom? Those who will never be able to picture the class. Some, where school drop off is only at the gate at the end of the driveway, may have never even met the teacher in person. They are dropping off their precious bundles of joy and then essentially hoping for the best! Putting their trust into a building they do not know and to adults they do not know.
Whilst of course it would not be right for schools to compromise bubbles and cross contamination by opening up the school for physical visits, there are ways to make those personal connections and build the trust for parents who feel totally disconnected.
A video of the teacher talking about the class, an email from a nursery class with some photos of the week so we can see what they are doing, a website gallery of images with captions showing some highlights, a video on the website from the end of year show which was recorded, or the sports day. There are lots of chances to give those parents reassurance and give them a talking point with their children at the end of the day.
A virtual tour of the school can also help when children are explaining where they think they lost their jumper, or help a parent understand which climbing frame they are talking about from the playground. It is those bits of knowledge I love to fall back on when my sons are talking about their day. It helps me to be engaged and interested in their school life. I also have another advantage in that I used to be a teacher. I know how to ask the right questions to get the right information. Not every parent even knows what they should be asking about. A classroom gives a lot of context: “Ah I see what they mean now by ‘Home Corner’ and ‘Construction area’!”
We offer some very professional packages to help you show off your school for prospective parents as well as current ones. But even if that doesn’t sit within your school budget, a simple video made on a smartphone can make a world of difference to the parents!