Transition to school from an early childhood service is a critical time for children as it sets them on their learning pathway for life. Children who experienced a smooth transition gained confidence in themselves as learners able to manage change. They experienced a consistent educational experience when early childhood services and schools shared a common vision and worked closely with parents and whanau to actively support the children’s learning. The importance of this is very evident for priority learners but no less critical for each and every child to succeed as a learner.
ERO found some examples of excellent practices to help children settle into schools.
The examples clearly showed the importance of strong leadership, focused on ensuring that transitions were as smooth as possible for children starting school. Children who experienced smooth transitions got the best start possible to their entire school learning pathway.
The leaders in schools where children experienced smooth transitions not only laid the foundation for success but also made sure critical elements to succeed were in place. Strong two-way partnerships between the school and parents supported children in their transitions and their learning.
Most schools, even those judged to be less responsive, had high quality transitions for children with special needs. They recognised, and acted on, the importance of providing a smooth transition for these children, taking into account the individual child’s culture, strengths and needs and their parents’ aspirations for them. Schools should extend many of the good practices they use for children with special needs to better support all children to successfully transition to school.
ERO’s findings show that some schools need to re-evaluate how they help children settle into school, in the light of best practice. Transition practices and processes are an important aspect of the school and how effective these are should be reported to the board of trustees. School leaders need to do everything they can to ensure that each and every child is provided with a smooth and consistent pathway into this next stage of early learning.