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6th June 2016 - Catch Up® – the bridge of learning between Primary and Secondary Schools


Everybody knows about the slippage in progress of learning between Primary and Secondary schools. Indeed, it is estimated that nearly 40% of children go backwards in reading between the end of Year 6 and the beginning of Year 7. Some people have even suggested that pupils might as well skip Year 7 because, for many of them, it takes a year to achieve in Secondary school what they were achieving in the run-up to the SATs in Year 6!

And, if that’s the situation for ‘average’ learners, what’s it like for pupils who struggle with literacy and numeracy?

Every year, about one in three children (about 180,000) leaves Primary school without having mastered essential skills in reading, writing and arithmetic. They are not ‘Secondary-ready’. And more than 30,000 of those 180,000 left Primary school with a Reading Age of 7 years or below. (They are not Junior School-ready – never mind Secondary-ready!) The truth is that pupils who were behind at the previous Key Stage are less likely to make progress than those who had achieved the expected level or above. In fact, less than half the pupils who reached the previous minimum standard at Key Stage 2 (i.e. Level 4c) went on to achieve 5 good GCSEs, including English and mathematics. And the 2014 curriculum has brought a new minimum standard, so the bar has definitely been raised.

Why are struggling learners more vulnerable at transfer?

  • They are more daunted by the change of environment

  • They are less adaptable as learners

  • There may be unrealistic expectations from the Secondary school (not from Special Needs Departments but from mainstream subject teachers)

  • Behaviour problems may mask learning difficulties

From the learners’ point of view, it’s all change once they get to Secondary school. For one thing, Literacy is not on the curriculum! It’s all English lessons!

So easing transition is of the greatest importance for pupils with low literacy and/or low numeracy scores. And that’s why interventions such as Catch Up® (which has a proven track record of effectiveness in both Secondary schools and Primary schools) can be the vital link in providing continuity of learning. Catch Up® Literacy (or Numeracy) can be the one familiar thing for a Year 7 pupil in a learning environment which, otherwise, can be very bewildering.

Teachers who support children with Special Learning Needs know that these learners typically lack confidence and have low self-esteem. That can hit rock bottom if they don’t have positive learning experiences right from the start of Secondary school. Continuing with the familiar procedures of Catch Up® Literacy or Numeracy (with the 15-minutes, twice-a-week individual sessions) can be key in raising the self-esteem of young learners, creating positive attitudes to learning in general and making their Secondary school years as productive as possible.

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