Induction time!

Yes , it’s that time of year when those of us who teach in secondary welcome a gaggle of year 6s into the school for “induction.”

The whole induction business seems to become more elaborate year after year and Year 7 heads of year certainly earn their money for all the organisation involved. The basis for all the activities seems to be that the Year 6 children will be terrified at the thought of secondary school. Consequently, the aim for all induction activities must be to show what a fun place the new school will be. There are treasure hunts, games and activities galore. The whole process can take longer than just one day, as there is further induction in September. Where I work, the children are encouraged to write down all the things they are nervous about on post it notes, which are then collated and given reassuring responses. Sadly, the end result of all of this hard work is that a group of very cocky children turn up in September having no real idea of what work in a secondary school is like.

I read with interest Katharine Birbalsingh’s idea of an induction week in Michaela Community School, where the emphasis is on behaviour and the fact that there are differences in what is acceptable in secondary and primary. In secondary there is more whole class teaching and children are not usually permitted to leave their seat and come to the teacher’s desk whenever they want to. They also need to learn about acceptable levels of noise and behaviour in different environments.

Personally, while I can see the point of a treasure hunt to help them orientate themselves, I would scrap most of the games and “team building” activities. While no one would want children to be terrified at the thought of “big school”, a little nervousness at first is not necessarily a bad thing. Instead I would begin with the serious stuff at first about the fact that there will be differences about what is acceptable behaviour in primary and in secondary, but point out to them the wonderful new opportunities the school will offer them if they work hard and listen. After a few practices of classroom routines they could then do a treasure hunt to help with orientation. But that would be it.

The problem is, it’s rather difficult to suggest that when it comes to induction, less would mean more! People spend a lot of time devising and running induction activities and no one wants to feel that what they do is a waste of time!

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