Year 6 – Year 7 Transition Project

Chickenshed's production "Day 1 - Big School" was created and devised around the words and opinions of 1000 children of primary school age about what would make schools and communities safer for children from negative influences, bullying and being exploited. 

Using dance, music, rap and drama the production plays out the journey of two young cousins searching for the best, safe school they can find. The production addresses difficult issues in a way that opens up conversation and discussion in a positive environment. The accompanying workshop supports the learning outcomes and develops the children’s awareness of ‘what is a safe space’.

Developed in association with Enfield Borough Council the performance and workshop have been in extensive use in Enfield.

It’s been great to be part of the project day one big school as I feel it is really making a difference and helping kids. My school definitely could’ve benefited from a show like day one big school as it really alerts kids from what you should and shouldn’t do when you are transitioning from year 6 to year 7. I feel it really prepares year 6 and shows them what to expect and how to handle certain situations. The feedback has been great from the kids and knowing that the shows having an impact makes me proud to keep performing it.

Demar Lambert, Performer

The show is amazing. I told the Chickenshed staff member Michael. Those kids - all 150 of them were completely "in"  the experience. I was watching them with the Form teachers. Totally engaged. And that's their best chance of learning. Their only chance. If they are hooked in. Then they learn. It's hard hitting but it needs to be. These Yr 6 kids are going to be challenged and tested by these issues of gang grooming and finding safe role models. Some of them are already having to go through it on their streets even before Secondary school starts. This kind of show and workshop will do so much good and is badly needed.

Deputy Headteacher, Large Edmonton Primary School

Update on Day One Big School Emergency Project

Covid-19 saw the sudden end to Chickenshed’s education outreach work. In order to continue reaching young people in need, we delivered a particularly important project during the Summer term entitled, Day One Big School. This project, generously funded by a trust and corporate donor respectively, supports the transition from year 6 Primary to year 7 Secondary, especially amongst young people at risk of exclusion and gang ‘grooming’.  It was decided to rework this originally performance-based project as an online resource due to lockdown restrictions.

Through the period of April and May, we reworked the script and songs to become more accessible as online content. A pilot episode was then circulated amongst target group teachers to allow us to collate feedback. It was felt that the most appropriate route for this project was via year 6 and 7 teachers and local education authorities. The existing script was adapted to include the ‘lived experience’ of peer group children in their early teens to allow for peer-to-peer learning. 

The project was highly appreciated by teachers with a strong response plus ideas around individual school needs. For instance, a school in Newham felt the casting and content would need to reflect their main demographic of high numbers of Asian students. We were able to address this through extending the existing cast to embrace wider diversity already existing within our student and membership body. 

These are typical of teacher responses:

Just looked at the video. Looks great and well pitched for the end of year 6. Advice from year 7s always gets listened to and the year 6 ask questions to them more freely. Yes I think schools would find it helpful especially if we can't do our usual transition programme. I can share with a couple of other HTs and my y6 teachers if you want. Content wise something around online behaviour, safety and bullying especially phones might be good also staying safe on the way to and from school, getting on buses.  Including all the positives about secondary like in the first one and what children are looking forward to works well. Maybe a key message summary at the end?”

 Jenny Bloyce, Primary School Head Teacher

I just watched the transition video which I enjoyed very much. I thought the song at the end was particularly fun and the young people performing it were lively and positive. I thought the variety of talking heads worked well too. I wonder whether you would want to include some teachers if you did it again another time as I remember when I was going to secondary school feeling that changing from one teacher who knew you well to lots of teachers who all seemed very remote and frightening was quite intimidating!

Anthea Davey, Head of English, secondary school. 

I really like it and think it’s a good tool for schools to use to start a dialogue with incoming year 6 students. How would schools access and engage with the video? I would be happy to share with our transition leaders and year leaders who will be responsible for year 7, if that’s helpful. From the point of view of my school, I would want to see more Asian faces as that reflects my school’s demographic.

Helen Finkelstein, co-head teacher, secondary school in Newham

Further developments of script and lived experience interviews came about through these types of responses. 

Due to strict measures at the time, the videos were created and edited around the young people working remotely at home. This developed as a style for ongoing narrative. 

In late June, we were able to bring some of the existing cast together to film activities that would be suitable for both socially distanced environments and online participation. These were then contained within the episodes to continue Chickenshed’s highly interactive style.

We uploaded five episodes covering topics such as what to expect on day one, peer pressure, gang involvement and advice on different people to talk to about issues of concern. These were distributed as pilots amongst schools in Enfield and Newham. The Newham secondary school, (Little Ilford), distributed these to all their feeder primary schools. Within Enfield, the schools used them directly with year 6 pupils who had returned to the classroom environment. 

To date the videos have been downloaded and viewed over 300 times through the Newham school initiative. Figures for Enfield are not available yet, but teachers indicated the films would be used extensively within the classroom both at the end of Summer term and during the Autumn term.

For further information please contact [email protected]