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About Transition – transcript

Rachelle Stratton, HOD Learning Needs, Tauranga Boys’ College:
So one of the times which is most stressful for students and their families is the times of transition, in particular moving from an intermediate or primary school into the secondary school. I’d like to share with you what we do at Tauranga Boys College during that transition.

Prior to entering the college, I go down to the intermediate and talk to the SENCO about the students who will be entering our school. I discuss with the SENCO the particular needs of that student. I then attend the last IEP for that student at their old school. One of the IEP goals will be based around the transition into secondary school. At that time we might decide that the student... it would benefit the student to come to the college during Term 4 the year prior and have weekly visits just to get used to the place. Our school has 1,800 students and so it’s a big place for many of our students entering our environment.

What we do during the visits to school is that we gradually take away the supports so that our staff take over from the intermediate staff that are supporting that student. That might mean that our teacher aides work alongside the students rather than teacher aides from their old school. I encourage the students to come down to the school during Christmas holidays and bike or walk around so that they actually get their head around the personal or environmental space of the school, and this makes the place seem a little smaller than originally thought. 

Jocelyn Springthorpe, HOD Learning Support (2012), Queen’s High School, Dunedin:
We also get that information from the school, written information from the school and the family by way of a student profile. And we find that this gives us some quite comprehensive background. It also lets us know which professionals are working with the student as well. 

Transitions in secondary school happen differently than primary as well in that just moving from class to class for some students is a huge transition. And in the year 9 and year 10, students may have as many as 8 or sometimes even more teachers depending on their options or choices. So at the beginning of the year, teachers may get very good information about students, but it’s important for all of us to remember that as they move through the year they might also move to new teachers, and we have to make sure that we keep those lines of communication open.

Rachelle Stratton:
It’s also important that we remember to pass on the information about the students to those individuals teachers. 

Jocelyn Springthorpe:
And then again, coming back the following year from year 9 to year 10 can be difficult for students as well, especially if there has been a change of staff. If there’s been a teacher that the student’s particularly fond of or gets on well with, if that teacher has moved on or is teaching in a different area of the school, that can create a whole new beginning again, and it’s like starting all over.

Rachelle Stratton:
The IEP is a really good time to discuss subject choice. In particular, when students are moving into their NCEA level 1 year, making sure that they have chosen subjects that meet their needs.

Jocelyn Springthorpe:
Another time in students’ time in school where they can feel particularly vulnerable and anxious is transitioning out of school and into the community. I find it takes up to two years to get the transition going well. This gives everybody a chance to start talking about it very early on, and then for the student to have a look at what options are available, and to physically go and see them and spend some time in there, and make decisions about what feels right and what doesn’t feel right.

Rachelle Stratton:
For some of the students at our school, transition might be spending one day a week in a working environment while they attend school for four days. And then each term it may increase and they naturally slid into that working environment, whether it be part time or full time. We find it’s useful to create a path, which is a visual representation of where the student is now and where they would like to see themselves at 21, at 18. And looking at what they would like to achieve during that time.

And looking at it in the future, and working our way back to what we need to do here and now in order to meet that young person’s needs. And that might be driving a car, it might be gaining a passport in order to travel, or living independently, depending on what the needs are. The timing of transition is really important. You need to start the process while the student is still relatively keen on school. You don’t start the process when they’ve lost all their motivation for school.

And that time of being ready to move on from school will be different for different students. When looking at transition, there are a number of agencies who you can approach to get advice, to get support. And our families need to be introduced to those professionals, and those professionals can attend to the IEPs or the independent transition planning meetings for those students when they are within their last year of school.

Jocelyn Springthorpe:
And transition providers vary from district to district, so schools will need to see who is available in the area.

Narrator:
Tayla, What do you like about the process of meeting with your teachers before your transition meetings? 

Tayla:
Um, from meeting, from the teacher, she can tell you waht idea you can say, or what you want, I guess what you want t say, or what is another idea.

Narrator:
Are you looking forward to leaving school, Tayla?

Tayla:
I feel like I want to leave school. I’ve been part of the planning, that’s why I want to leave school, because I’ve been part of the planning.

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