Transition from primary to secondary school guidance
Guidance and information for schools to support transition of learners from Year 6 to Year 7.
- Part of
This guidance is for governing bodies of secondary schools and their feeder primary schools who are required to jointly draw up a transition plan to support transition of learners from Year 6 to Year 7. This guidance explains the requirements for transition plans, including who must draw up plans, the content of those plans and requirements around reviewing such plans.
This guidance also provides information on voluntary arrangements to support and improve transition planning – recognising that many primary schools have links with a number of secondary schools which fall outside the legal requirements for transition plans.
Full details of the legal duties of the requirements to produce transition plans are contained within the Education (Transition from Primary to Secondary School) (Wales) Regulations 2022 (the 2022 Transition Regulations) and the Requirement for the production of transition plans and guidance 2022.
What’s changing – transition from primary to secondary school regulations 2022
Currently legal requirements for transition from primary to secondary school are set out in the Transition from Primary to Secondary School (Wales) Regulations 2006 (the 2006 Regulations). New 2022 Transition Regulations have been made which revoke and replace the 2006 regulations and come into force 1 July 2022.
All secondary schools and their feeder primary schools will need to put in place new transition plans to support transition under Curriculum for Wales. The first plans must be drawn up and operational from 1 September 2022 to support transition of the first cohort of learners moving from Year 6 to Year 7 under Curriculum for Wales in summer 2023 in readiness for the 2023 to 2024 school year.
Reason for changes to existing transition process
Schools will have transition plans in place but the focus of these will be on transition and continuity of curriculum planning, teaching and learning under the pre-Curriculum for Wales curriculum.
New plans therefore need to be drawn up to support transition and learner progression within Curriculum for Wales.
New plans will need focus on how continuity of learning will be achieved through curriculum design, planning and teaching for learning for Year 6 learners under Curriculum for Wales, and how individual learner needs and well-being will be supported during transition.
The legal requirements
This section summarises legal requirements placed on governing bodies of secondary schools and their feeder primary schools, full details of which are in the 2022 Transition Regulations, which should be looked at alongside this guidance.
This section also sets out the circumstances where a transition plan is required, the definition of a feeder primary school for the purposes of transition planning, areas to be addressed in a transition plan, and the requirements for the publication and review of a transition plan.
Purpose of a transition plan
Transition plans aim to support and improve links between secondary schools and feeder primary schools with a specific focus on working together to support coherent learner progression, support the overall needs and well-being of the learner and ensure appropriate pace and challenge in a school’s approach to progression when developing their curriculum and assessment arrangements.
Under the 2022 Transition Regulations governing bodies of maintained secondary schools and feeder primary schools must jointly draw up a single transition plan to support transition of learners from Year 6 to Year 7. Provision for individual feeder primary schools within the plan can be different, but there must only be a single plan held by the secondary school.
Categories of schools
The requirement for production of a transition plan applies to:
- community, voluntary and foundation secondary schools where they have feeder primary schools
- community, voluntary and foundation primary schools where they are defined as a feeder primary school for the purposes of the 2022 Transition Regulations
Definition of a feeder primary school
A feeder primary school is determined by school governing bodies having had regard to guidance published by the Welsh Ministers. The guidance is contained in the Requirement for the production of transition plans and guidance 2022. That guidance states that the Welsh Ministers consider that the requirement for the drawing up of transition plans should be limited to instances where there is an established and ongoing relationship between a primary school and a particular secondary school founded on the majority of the Year 6 cohort from the primary school transferring to that particular secondary school.
The definition does not transcend current admission criteria for secondary schools or determine the catchment area of a particular secondary school.
The feeder primary school relationship should be reviewed annually to determine whether, as a result of changing patterns of learner movement, there is still a requirement for a transition plan.
Timing of publication of transition plans
Transition plans must be published on or before the beginning of the school year they are intended to apply to.
In practical terms this means that under the 2022 Transition Regulations, first transition plans need to be published and in place by September 2022.
The first cohort of learners to transition under Curriculum for Wales will be those Year 6 learners who move to Year 7 in autumn term 2023 (academic year 2023 to 2024). To ensure that the curriculum delivered within schools for those Year 6 learners takes account of continuity of learning and supports learner progression at transition, transition plans need to be in place by September 2022 and implemented across the 2022 to 2023 academic year.
This will be the same for any future cohorts of learners, with plans in place and operational from the beginning of the school year to which they apply.
Exemption from the requirement to produce a transition plan
It is recognised that where a school has a small Year 6 cohort the overall percentage of learners moving to an identified secondary school may change significantly each year. Therefore, where a school with learners from Years 1 to 6 has a total of 50 or fewer registered learners and a school with learners from Years 3 to 6 has 32 or fewer registered learners such schools are exempt from the statutory requirement to produce a transition plan.
The number of schools in such circumstances is relatively small. However, such schools are encouraged to enter into voluntary planning arrangements with secondary schools to ensure that there are effective arrangements for transition. These arrangements should draw on the relationships established through developing a shared understanding of progression – see the section on ‘Transition planning and shared understanding of progression’.
Core content of transition plans
Under the 2022 Transition Regulations transition plans must cover the following matters:
- proposals generally for managing and co-ordinating the transition of learners from the feeder primary schools to the secondary school
- proposals generally for how continuity of learning will be achieved through curriculum design and planning for learning and teaching for learners in Year 6 transitioning to Year 7
- proposals for how each individual learner’s progression will be supported as they transition from primary school to secondary school
- proposals for how the learning needs and the well-being of each individual learner will be supported as they transition from primary school to secondary school
- proposals for reviewing and monitoring the impact of the transition plan in respect of how it has helped:
- achieve continuity of learning
- support individual learner progression
Review of transition plans
It is for governing bodies and school management teams to determine, as part of the development of a plan, when a transition plan should be reviewed annually and rolled forward or amended to take account of any changed circumstances. However, plans must be reviewed and a decision taken as to whether changes are needed in the following circumstances:
- if a primary school becomes a feeder primary school of a secondary school which already has one or more feeder primary schools
- if the curriculum is reviewed under section 12 of the Curriculum and Assessment (Wales) Act 2021 (requirement to review and revise a curriculum of a maintained school and a maintained nursery school)
- if the assessment arrangements of either the primary school or secondary school made under the Education (Arrangements for Assessing in the Curriculum for Wales) Regulations 2022 are reviewed
- if the governing bodies of all of the schools concerned consider it appropriate to do so
- at the end of the period of 3 years beginning on the date on which the transition plan (or revised plan) was published
When reviewing a transition plan, governing bodies of the schools concerned must take account of how the transition process might be better managed. Review of a plan must assess the plan’s effectiveness in relation to continuity of learning, supporting learner progression, and supporting the health and well-being of each learner.
The 2022 Transition Regulations provide for any dispute as to whether a school is a feeder primary school of a particular secondary school to be determined by the Welsh Ministers. Procedures will be put in place for such resolution of disputes.
A primary school may dispute whether they are a feeder primary school of a particular secondary school. In most instances, the position would be able to be clarified through reference to the information held by the schools and the local authority on the destination of learners completing Year 6. If, however, disputes cannot be resolved at a local level they should be referred to the Welsh Government’s Education Department.
Voluntary arrangements to support and improve transition planning
The 2022 Transition Regulations set the minimum legal requirement for when formal transition plans must be drawn up. However, primary schools frequently have links with a number of secondary schools where less than 50% of Year 6 learners move to the secondary school. In such instances there is no statutory requirement for a transition plan.
However, governing bodies and senior management teams in such circumstances are encouraged to consider entering into voluntary arrangements to support transition planning using the overall format provided for transition plans.
Similarly, where the legal requirement for a plan is removed at a future date due to the number of Year 6 learners in the primary school falling below the 50% mark, partners are encouraged to consider whether the planning arrangement be continued on a voluntary basis.
Transition planning and shared understanding of progression
There is a clear link between the required transition arrangements to support Year 6 learners’ transition to secondary school and the arrangements required under Curriculum for Wales to enable practitioners to develop a shared understanding of progression.
When coming together to develop their understanding of progression, we envisage primary and secondary school practitioners will consider not only progression at Year 6 and Year 7 but the 3 to 16 continuum as a whole. These arrangements – put in place to enable practitioners to work together at a school, setting, cluster or network level to develop that shared understanding – can support the facilitation of those voluntary arrangements required to allow practitioners to consider transition from Year 6 beyond the minimum requirement.
Resources have been created to help support and improve transition planning across schools and settings.