14 December 2012: The transition from primary to secondary school has become a notorious black spot for academic performance. Good students often falter, while those who were already struggling can find themselves swamped by increased expectations. SHINE in Secondaries, a brand new programme that begins in January, has been expressly designed to tackle this problem.

The programme is based upon our highly successful SHINE on Saturdays initiative, EEF-logo resizedbut has been remodelled carefully to address the challenges of transition, and also to appeal to slightly older students. The programme is funded mostly through grants from the Greater London Authority and the Education Endowment Foundation. It will help 630 students over the next three years.

January launch

From January, 60 11-13 year olds attending Rush Croft Sports College in Walthamstow will attend regular Saturday morning teaching sessions. Each student has been identified by their teachers as requiring extra support. mayor-of-london_logo resized“Our students arrive with such low scores, it’s essential to get the building blocks in place straightaway. They’ve only got five years before they leave, and a lot of ground to make up”, said Sean Reed, Deputy Headteacher at Rush Croft.

To engage the students, the Saturday sessions will provide them with hands-on, creative learning experiences. “We’re teaching maths in a practical way, we’ve got science booster classes, international food weeks and a performing arts programme”, Sean Reed said. Every half term, the students develop their team skills at an outdoor centre; they also have a ‘London experience’, choosing visits to places such as the Science Museum.

September expansion

During this time, Rush Croft’s feeder primary schools will be selecting 60 underachieving final year students to make up next year’s group. The same thing will be happening for a further seven projects that will begin in summer 2013 in Haringey, Brent, Waltham Forest, Lambeth and Greater Manchester.

Initially, week-long courses during the summer holidays will help the students in each group get acquainted with each other and start developing the personal and study skills that secondary school requires. Once they start school itself, Saturday classes will combine a creative curriculum with interactive sessions to improve their learning, speaking and social skills. “This is an outstanding opportunity for them to receive some additional support and to gain some aspirations of their own”, Sean said. As ever, we will be monitoring their progress closely and hope that this new programme provides an effective answer to the always-tricky first year blues.