Our first weekly blog of the new school year has been written by Claire Mills, Head of Years 7 & 8. she shares some valuable insights on starting anew and provides helpful advice on how to boost confidence and increase independence.
Navigating a move to a new school: A team effort
Starting on a Friday this term was ideal for Years 7 & 8 as we could have our usual assembly to welcome pupils old and new. I took the opportunity to show pupils a short Pixar film ‘Piper’ which tells the tale of a young sandpiper who undertakes to feed herself for the first time. We spent some time reflecting on its relevance to starting at Bethany and I was impressed with the pupils’ insightful responses.
They drew parallels between Piper’s significant milestone and their own, which is both exciting and daunting. Importantly, they recognised that this natural process of growing up and gaining independence is not a journey they are expected to make alone; that there is a collaborative effort between Bethany, parents, and pupils. In this blog, I will explore how we can work together as a team to support the transition to a new school and lay the foundations for a successful school career.
As I shared with new parents in June, my mantra has become ‘if it matters to you, it matters to us’. I believe that in addressing concerns promptly, we all benefit, so open communication is actively encouraged. There are a whole host of ways to get in touch, but the clearest channel is through the tutor by email. We have an event arranged on Friday September 22nd for parents and tutors to put a face to a name. It is also possible to find a great deal of information on the website, Portal, pupils Teams, or in the Handbook sent home over the summer.
As pupils develop skills in navigating challenges, it is important that emotional support is provided. This first week is always tiring and emotionally taxing for all involved! Pupils can expect their tutor to provide a safe space for them to share concerns, worries and excitement about their new school in the twice-daily registrations. We are acutely aware of the developmental stage we are working with: early adolescence. During this time, pupils are discovering how to assert themselves, develop their identity, and find their place in the world. Simultaneously, they are learning to fit in and belong to different groups, all while exploring their skills and ambitions. This can sometimes lead to feeling pulled in various directions. Rest assured, we offer support and guidance in many guises: shadows, tutors, Verena Boot (our Welfare Officer), Sisters Rhiannon and Sam in the Wellness Centre, 6th form listeners or our SENCO, Katie Harper.
Back to Piper. Another observation that pupils made was that she had to pluck up her courage and have a go in the first instance, pick herself up to try again, and celebrate her success. There are a number of ways we can empower pupils to do the same during this period of change. Following a largely successful IT induction, pupils now have access to Teams and can begin to become more independent. They will learn to use the files and resources on the Teams to find information, develop their communication skills to ask questions or seek help from their teachers or tutor, and celebrate their own success by tracking merits on the Portal. This autonomy in learning was also explored in a separate induction session where pupils evaluated values and goals. We will continue to build on this throughout the year during tutor time.
In just under five minutes Piper covered the importance of facing fears and embracing new experiences. It reminded pupils that perseverance and adaptability are often the key to success and that learning from, and working with, others can yield wonderful results. I am so pleased to be starting this journey together, not to mention to have another chance to share such a lovely film!
Head of Year 7 and 8