Transition from primary to secondary is important in the lives of children and their families and is recognised as one of the most challenging times in a child’s education – particularly regarding their academic achievement. There are many significant factors that can impact (positively or negatively) a smooth and effective transition including: relationships with peers, relationships with teachers, physical environment, academic matters as well as engagement and motivation.
In this article, the first of three specifically looking at transition, we examine the role that the Primary Cluster Programme in STEM can have in supporting transition from primary to secondary education.
Between 2012 and 2018, SSERC designed the Primary Cluster Programme in Science and Technology (PCP). The aims of the PCP were to improve the confidence and expertise of all primary teachers in a participating cluster with their teaching of science and technology and to promote increased collegiality between cluster schools. To facilitate success, the cluster comprises a secondary school associated with the participating primary schools.
The PCP Model
The innovative PCP model involves centralised training in the form of two residential events designed to equip teachers with the knowledge, skills and confidence to become science and technology mentors. The role of the mentors is to promote science and technology activities within their cluster by sharing experiences and good practice, promoting collegiality, disseminating activities/information and providing support and guidance to their colleagues. During the 8-month interval between the two residentials, mentors are expected to liaise with their colleagues to identify their professional development needs and design and implement a relevant bespoke programme of Career Long Professional Learning (CLPL) to improve science and technology teaching of all teachers in their cluster. Progress is then shared at the second residential as a ‘showcase gap task’ where Headteachers and Local Authority representatives are invited.
Between 2012-2019, all 32 Scottish Local Authorities have been involved in the programme with 676 schools across 99 clusters taking part. 515 mentors have been trained with >480 face to face workshops and >110 interactive electronic workshops delivered to >6000 teachers with a total of >18000 attendances.
The PCP has been externally evaluated in order to gauge its effectiveness by looking at its impact from the perspective of mentors, headteachers, other staff members and pupils. Evaluation data was collected through surveys of mentors, headteachers, other teaching staff and pupils in addition to focus groups, reflective diaries and course observations.
Survey respondents: 811 mentors, 218 headteachers, 275 other staff, 11793 pupils, 108 reflective diaries.
Mentors, Headteachers, other teaching staff, Local Authority Officers/QIOs reported that the programme has
These findings are particularly important as they align strongly with the Scottish Governments aims and aspirations of learning in sciences and technology. Some Local Authority Officers/QIOs also reported that they were looking to draw on the reflective collaborative model of the programme to inform their own plans for science and technology education.
Key Success Factors
What’s next ?
In the next edition, we will provide you with a specific example of how this model was used to support primary/secondary transition in one Local Authority cluster.