Parents group says 'no excuse' to cancel transition days for Scottish P7 pupils
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Campaign group UsForThem Scotland said they had heard from many disappointed families across the country that visits had been shelved over Covid-19 safety fears.
But the group claims the visits are “crucial” and has issued a call to councils and the Scottish Government to go ahead with sessions, giving all P7 pupils the chance to visit their secondary before the term ends.
UsForThem urged decision makers to abandon the “can’t do” attitude when it comes to children’s schooling, saying the transition days are crucial for pupils to adapt to secondary school.
It comes as it was revealed the average attainment levels in Scotland’s state secondary schools are poorer than previously thought.
As well as falling back in science and maths as reported in 2019, performance is also reportedly worse in reading, despite previous claims that scores had improved.
Academics said the findings were “especially significant” as the data is the only independent, verifiable evidence available to evaluate educational performance under the Scottish Government.
Jo Bisset, organiser for UsForThem Scotland, said: “By the time schools return in August, things should be absolutely normal for pupils.
“But that will be jeopardised by failing to provide P7 children with a transitioning experience now into secondary.
“There’s no excuse whatsoever for these not to go ahead – the Scottish Government and others involved in this process need to drop their ‘can’t do’ attitude.
“Transition days are a vital fixture for children leaving primary school and help a great deal with the crucial next steps.
“They provide a way to help young people move from what are usually quite small schools to much larger schools. This can be quite intimidating.
"Knowing where to go and how to get there can be a big worry for kids and orienteering sessions can easily put those worries to rest.
“Some children find change particularly difficult. Transition days are about setting children up for success.
“Failing to provide these is just another way in which the system is unfairly and disproportionately punishing our children.”
One parent who contacted the group said: “In the school’s defence, they have done an amazing job doing what they can to support the P7s moving up in August and are hugely frustrated. But the Scottish Government is opening up shops, pubs and restaurants while my 11-year-old son is being utterly deprived of the transition experience he deserves and needs at this hugely important time in his life.”
In a report published by the Scottish Government in March, it was recommended schools and parents need to provide “the support necessary to mitigate against negative impacts and ensure each child has a successful transition”.
Published data shows that levels of Covid cases in young children continue to be low.
Education secretary John Swinney said: “I appreciate and understand the importance of P7 transition visits and I am very supportive of these taking place.
"That is why we gave priority to such visits in 2020 and I would be supportive of such plans this year. It should be for individual schools to put these arrangements in place and guidance should be prepared by the Education Recovery Group to enable this to happen.”
An Edinburgh City Council spokesperson said: “We know how important the transition from primary to high school is and base decisions on current health protection and infection control guidance. Any changes in this guidance will be reflected in our advice to schools.”