Recognising that improving transfer arrangements depends on continuing government investment and the support of schools, Mr Miliband outlined the ways in which the government is helping to improve the transition process this summer. These include:
- new 'transition units' in maths and English which bridge the gap between teaching in primary and secondary schools so that new teachers can pick up where their primary colleagues have left off;
- materials and training to enable teachers to build on pupils' primary school progress and develop lessons to suit all abilities;
- better links between primary and secondary teachers;
- literacy and numeracy summer schools; and
- catch-up classes for pupils who need additional support.
The programme to transform the middle years has been running since September 2001 focusing on English and Maths, particularly on Year 7 pupils who did less well at primary school. Next year the programme will expand to cover science, ICT and other subjects.
On 21 March 2002 the secretary of state for education and skills Estelle Morris launched the drive to transform the middle years.
Mr Miliband said:
'This report strongly supports our drive to transform teaching and learning in the middle years. Managing the move from primary to secondary schools has always been a challenging task for schools. The journey has often been marred by lack of information, inconsistencies of teaching styles, failure to build on prior learning and differing expectations between schools.
'Despite recent improvement this report shows there is still much to do. We have acted to improve the transfer of pupil information between schools so that this can now be done electronically. We have introduced new transition units to provide continuity, so when pupils first arrive they experience a lesson structure they are familiar with and are able to build upon their early successes. There are encouraging signs that these measures can make a real difference, but the continuing commitment and contributions of schools and local education authorities is crucial.
'It is essential that we get this right and that children start secondary school on the right footing. We can no longer afford a period of 'lost years'. Evidence shows that success during the early secondary years has a direct impact on educational achievements in later years.
'Transforming the middle years is key to our ambition of reforming secondary schooling. There are tough challenges ahead but if we engage the energy and enthusiasm of our schools and teachers and the talents of our young people, I believe we can succeed.'
This press notice relates to England
* the Ofsted report is available here.
1.The statutory information included in the new electronic transfer of the common data file will be the same as on the previous paper form and includes pupil names, date of birth, Unique Pupil Number (UPN), attendance data, details of Special Educational Needs and assessment data, including the results of National Curriculum tests and teacher assessments where appropriate.
2.All schools should now be capable of transferring this information electronically. However, in exceptional cases, schools will be permitted to make alternative arrangements to ensure that the items of information which form the common transfer file are transferred to the new school manually.
3.The new electronic transfer form will be used whenever a pupil changes school, whether this is a transfer from primary to secondary school or a change from one primary or secondary school to another.
4.Schools are required to transfer pupil data to the new school within 15 school days of the pupil leaving the 'old' school, and are now being encouraged to do so through a new secure file transfer service which has been set up on the 'Teachernet' website run by Department for Education and Skills. Alternatively, they may choose to send the data as an email attachment over a secure network or as a file on a floppy disk.
5.Teachernet website will also provide a database of 'missing' pupils - pupils who may perhaps have moved overseas or transferred to an independent school, where their old school is unaware of their present location. Schools who receive pupils with no transfer files will be able to ask their local education authority to search this database to see if the files are there.
6.The transition units were sent to schools earlier this year as part of the government's£500m Middle Years (Key Stage 3) strategy. There are two pairs of transition units - one for mathematics and one for literacy/English. The units use teaching objectives drawn from the primary and Key Stage 3 frameworks for teaching literacy/English or mathematics. More information about the transition package is available from Press Notice 2001/0381.
7.More information about the electronic data transfer is available on www.teachernet.gov.uk; more information about transition units is available on www.standards.dfes.gov.uk/keystage3