Edinburgh Together

Edinburgh Community Support Services case studies

Transition difficulties from nursery to primary school

In March of 2000, the school identified that of the 23 children in the nursery class due to go into Primary school after the school holidays, 16 were assessed as having some level of behavioural difficulty and would have problems managing the transition to Primary. In addition the school felt that many of the parents were socially isolated and unsupported.

As a result of these concerns, it was agreed that the support teacher, social worker and support worker would work alongside nursery/school staff to develop and implement a positive behaviour programme. This would support the children’s learning in the school context and help them develop skills to manage the behaviour programme.

To parallel the input provided the children, the local Children’s centre, Social Work Centre and Family Learning Project agreed to provide a worker from each to work with the parents in a group setting to develop a partnership between parents/carers and school.

The overall aims of the work were:

  • To help the children manage the transition from nursery to primary school.
  • To involve the parents/carers with this process and increase their involvement with the school.

In order to achieve these aims the following objectives were set:

  • To help the children to increase their self-esteem and respect for others, develop skills (looking, listening, speaking and thinking), understand, learn and follow school rules, and understand that there are rewards for following rules and consequences for breaking them.
  • To assist the teachers in developing and implementing a positive behaviour programme.
  • To increase parents/carers knowledge and understanding of the school behaviour programmes.

Support for the children

The work was done over a period of eight weeks covering the transition period and was based on a circle time approach. Each week the children would first work in the larger group on identified skills before splitting into smaller groups to practice them.

The four sessions done in the nursery concentrated on a skill of the week:

  • looking skills
  • Listening skills
  • Speaking skills (parents joined this session)
  • Thinking skills

The four sessions in Primary 1 looked at:

  • Class rules and golden time
  • 'Do be kind, don’t hurt anybody'
  • 'Do listen, don’t interrupt'
  • Self-esteem and fun together

The service also provided support in implementing golden time. This is time given to the children for individually chosen structured activities on the basis that they will have followed "golden rules" set in the classroom and school throughout the rest of the school week.

Support for the parents

  • Increase parents/carers knowledge and understanding of the school’s behaviour programme.
  • To enable parents/carers to develop an approach to behaviour management consistent with this.
  • To promote a holistic approach with the school and parents/carers supporting each other’s contributions to the children’s development and learning.
  • To promote a communication between parents and school.
  • To identify a range of opportunities for parental involvement in the life of the school and support for parents to achieve this.
  • To promote a range of opportunities to meet identified parent’s needs in relation to social isolation and parenting issues.

From the beginning the parents' group had quite high attendance figures (an average of 13 parents per session). An important factor in this was the very positive relationship the nursery teacher had built up with the parents. In addition to participating in one session, the parents were also shown a video of one session in nursery and one in P1. This method of recording children’s progress and using it within the groups proved extremely successful with the parents and one in which the parents felt comfortable engaging with. Parents were able to recognise how their children had developed over the weeks to reflect on the various forms of input in the programme.

Feedback from all involved:

Teachers noted that this group of children seemed better able to talk in P1 and were more confident that other P1 intakes they had experienced. Their general behaviour was also better than had been anticipated.

Parents made the following comments and observations:

  • Children had more confident to speak in a group
  • They were more able to sit still
  • 'Will give them more confidence, through being praised.'
  • One mother had the rules put up on the walls at home
  • Better links between parents and teacher so that there is more consistency between home and school  
  • Children pleased that parents were involved in school
  • They were able to see the progress made by the children between the first and second video

Some parents also reported that they had a more positive attitude to the work of the school and felt more confident about participating in school life.

Recently the head teacher reported that this class (now P4) is one of the most settled in the school.