In the Learning to Learn curriculum I’m evaluating as the focus of my PhD, the first project we run in Autumn term 1 is an identity project called “Who am I?”. The idea is to help the children think about themselves as individuals and about what it is that makes them, them. The transition from year 6 to 7 can be pretty brutal – going from a class of 30 in a primary school where everybody knows everybody else, to a huge new complex of buildings where there might be as many as 300 students in your year group alone, all wearing an identical uniform… what does this do to a child’s sense of identity? It’s an interesting question, and as far as I’m aware it’s not one that is asked very often.
Hence our decision to kick off the year with a project about identity. We gave students 6 weeks (one double lesson each week, plus homework tasks that they set for themselves) to answer the question “Who am I?” in as many ways as they possibly could. This is not an original idea – I did something similar when I was in year 7 – but I do think it’s a great project for year 6s and 7s.
I haven’t thought about the “Who am I” project for a while, until this week. I’m currently working with a group of secondary school senior leaders on the problem of how to smooth transition from year 6 to 7. Mostly, the focus is on literacy interventions once children are in year 7. However, one teacher I’m working with wanted to explore the idea of doing something before the students arrive at secondary school to help prevent or slow down the “backslide” that can sometimes happen between years 6 and 7; something that the students can do over the summer a) to show off/keep up their literacy skills, and b) to help the secondary school get to know their new intake.
Our first thought was to ask the children to write a journal, or a Summer Active Reading Programme like the one that was recently evaluated by the EEF. Then the teacher I’m working with suggested doing something around identity, and I remembered the “Who am I” project. I think this lends itself to a summer transition project really nicely, because it doesn’t require very much input from the school.
So, if you’re in charge of transition – either primary or secondary – why not give your year 6s the following:
- A nice plastic folder
- A pen and a pack of coloured pencils or felt tips
- A few sheets of lined and plain paper
- A cover sheet like the one above, or something like it (here’s a Word version in case you want to edit it)
If you do decide to do this – drop us a line and us know how it goes!