Moving to High School is one of the key moments in a child’s life, full of excitement, questions and anxiety. For pupils with Additional Support Needs (ASN) these anxieties can be great and, without appropriate support, can threaten a successful start to High School. In order to lessen anxieties and improve children’s confidence in joining us at James Gillespie’s the Support for Learning department have developed a comprehensive transition programme. From January staff at the High School visit all six of our feeder primary schools to discuss the support needs of Primary 7 pupils with the appropriate staff. For pupils with more complex ASNs the High School ask primary schools to arrange Planning Meetings to allow High School staff to meet with the child’s parents, teachers and any relevant professionals. These meetings will allow the High School to gain an understanding of any specific challenges that the child may face during transition and whilst at high school and allows us to put appropriate support in place. All of the information gathered during these visits is shared with High School staff, both in a confidential report issued before the 3 day visit and during a training session on our first in-service day in August.

Between Easter and mid June, when all P7 pupils visit the High School for 3 days, the Support for Learning department at the High School run two Transition Support Groups. The groups consist of around 10 pupils from P7 who primary schools feel may struggle with transition, be it due to an ASN, social issues or behavioural issues. The groups are staffed by a SfL teacher and a Pupil Support Assistant and meet for 2 hours a week for 6 weeks. These groups have been hugely successful at helping pupils build relationships with key staff at the High School, enabling them to get to know the school buildings and allowing staff to get to know the pupils. During the course of the group pupils make a video about the school, interviewing staff and highlighting the areas of the school which the pupils are particularly excited about. The pupils take the video back to their primary schools and show it to their peers. Pupils who have taken part in the groups report significant decreases in their anxiety levels and an increase in confidence, not only with moving to high school, but also with their relationship with their peers.

If your child has an Additional Support Need, attends an out of catchment primary school but is coming to James Gillespie’s High School please ask the primary school to get in touch with us. In some cases we may only need to have a phone conversation to pass on relevant details, but in more complex cases staff from Gillespie’s will be happy to attend any Planning Meetings to get all the information that is required for a smooth transition.