Transition can be a difficult, nervous and exciting time for any pupil. However for children and young people with additional support needs it can be a particularly stressful time for them and their family. However, the process can be eased with appropriate understanding, partnership work, support and planning.
The 2017 Code of Practice states:
‘Education authorities should have appropriate arrangements in place to ensure that changes in school education for all children and young people can be as smooth as possible. School staff have responsibility for ensuring all children and young people develop the skills for personal planning. All children and young people should experience activities in the context of the curriculum, learning and achievement which will prepare them for transitions within and beyond school education’.
‘Effective planning helps to promote shared understanding and close communication among all relevant persons and above all helps to ensure that any required action is co-ordinated appropriately’.
‘The ASL Act makes specific provisions to enable children and young people with additional support needs to receive help when they experience changes in school education These changes, or transitions, include starting pre-school provision for the first time, transferring to primary school, transferring from primary to secondary school and preparing to leave school. Transitions also include moving from one school to another, for example, as a result of a change of address or through being excluded from school’.
The legislation requires the authority to seek relevant advice and information from such appropriate agencies and others as the authority consider appropriate. (p32)
Nursery, Primary and secondary schools need to work within time scales and collaboratively to put in place strategies which will help pupils who are dyslexic to cope with this new stage of their educational career. This requirement is supported by educational law for children and you people whose dyslexia is considered to be ‘significant’ or if they are otherwise at risk of not making a successful transition.
It important to understand that transitions occur each day, through the year and not only at the commonly highlighted stages such as P7 – S1 or S4/5/6 to post school. This section provides some guidance to support the various stages of transition which school communities are involved in to ensure that they are child centred positive experiences which support learners with dyslexia.
‘Dyslexia at Transition’ highlighted that:
Children with dyslexia are often under stress in schools, thus inhibiting their capacity for learning [Gupta & Gupta 1992]. Repeated exposure to texts which they cannot read, lack of time to complete tasks, considerable emphasis on the written word in tests and examinations, all these contribute to damaging loss of self-esteem, perpetuate a low self-image, and can ultimately lead to disaffection and difficult behaviour.
However, the corollary is also true - that reducing stress on the child with dyslexia facilitates learning. Whilst actual strategies such as providing readers and scribes*, extra time and reducing the emphasis on writing alleviate some of the problems, often more effective is an empathetic and understanding teacher who is prepared to be flexible in his/her pedagogy.
(*The use of IT would be the expected norm today).