I was delighted to read recently the Junior School Head Boy and Girl Blog in which Holly and Joel explain their thoughts about moving to the Senior School and share their enjoyment of the recent Transition Days. Change is daunting for most of us and learning to negotiate successfully both the planned and unplanned changes that take place during our lives is a key skill for adulthood. Of course we all need support to navigate change, after all few of us would consider buying a house without employing the services of a conveyancer! At the Dixie the transition from Junior to Senior School is very carefully supported by close liaison between Junior and Senior School teachers, visits of key staff and current Year 6 students to the Junior School as well as carefully planned Science and Induction days at the Senior School. I encourage you to read all about these experiences from Holly and Joel.
This year sees the launch of further support to all our Year 6 students making the transition to Senior School in September – the introduction of our Dixie 6 Curriculum. At the Dixie, Year 6 are based in the Senior School, which gives us a unique opportunity to develop a fully transitional year. The Dixie 6 curriculum is not a Junior School curriculum nor is it a Senior School experience. Dixie 6 is a carefully selected blend of the two that seeks to support students make the vital change from being Junior School pupils to becoming Senior School students with the increased independence that entails. Year 6 students will be taught by teachers who teach their subject to A Level, they will engage in practical Design & Technology, Science and Home Economics Lessons in specialist laboratories and workshops whilst enjoying a base for many of their other subjects. The Homework timetable has been carefully considered to ensure it builds on the demands of Year 5 whilst preparing students for the greater organisational requirements of Year 7. Year 6 students will, this September, learn to respond to more teachers than they have been used to thus far but all those teaching Year 6 have agreed the presentation standards they expect and marking principles they will employ, ensuring real continuity for the students.
It is not just students who have traditionally found the move from Junior to Senior School a challenge – parents too can struggle with the increased independence expected of and demanded by their children. The Dixie 6 curriculum will aid transition here too by providing parents with a weekly report on homework tasks to keep them in the picture whilst the students learn to record, manage and hand in the various tasks demanded of them. Perhaps a feature for which parents will be most grateful is the very specific teaching of Google Classroom skills before any use of this tool is made within the curriculum. Both the Year 6 Form Teachers teach their charges ensuring an overview of each child academically and pastorally.
We are deservedly proud of our Sixth Formers who never fail to impress visitors with their confidence, compassion and resourcefulness. They speak with enthusiasm of their school experiences including Gold Duke of Edinburgh, World Challenge, Dixie Leaders’ Awards and with excitement of their post A Level ambitions. This self-confidence and competence doesn’t happen by chance – students at the Dixie travel on a journey towards adulthood that is planned and designed. The skills they first employ in Forest School at the Junior School are those they later rely on during World Challenge; the organisational skills required to manage the demands of a diverse curriculum, a homework timetable and exam preparation are those they will employ at university and beyond.
Transition points are risky; it is natural for us to worry about our young people successfully making the various leaps between Infant & Junior, Junior & Secondary, GCSE & A Level etc. However, with the Dixie 6 we are confident we have a support mechanism in place to minimise that risk and to ensure that for Holly and Joel as well as their peers from our Junior School and our feeder schools the transition to secondary education is both smooth and successful.
Catrina Young, Deputy Head, Senior School