Transition Conference 2023: Collaborating for Success

Last week, we enjoyed spending the day with so many inspirational educators at the Manchester City Council and One Education Transition Conference 2023. With so many inspiring keynotes and workshops, it’s safe to say the day was a great success!
Delegates gathered in the conference hall for the Transition Conference.
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Transition Conference 2023

It was a pleasure to welcome our colleagues from primary and secondary schools to the aptly named Friends’ Meeting House in Manchester. We always love to see education professionals coming together and making connections. We believe that through open dialogue and mutual support, we can give our pupils the best possible education.

This is especially true when it comes to supporting transition, as highlighted by the day’s theme: Collaborating for Success. Research shows that during this period of adjustment, children are often slow to make academic progress. To ensure the needs of our pupils are met, collaboration between educators is essential – not just within a school, but across the separate phases. With this in mind, One Education was proud to work in partnership with Manchester City Council to deliver this event, bringing schools together to lay foundations for the future!

After we had all taken our seats, Jo Gray, One Education’s Head of Educational Development warmly welcomed us to the conference, followed by a thoughtful introduction from Amanda Corcoran, Education Director at MCC. With so many keynotes, workshops and masterclasses to look forward to, we reflected on the importance of sharing knowledge, learning from others, and working together to create better opportunities for children and young people.

Youth Parliament Academy

For our first keynote of the day, we were delighted to welcome representatives from Manchester Youth Parliament, Daanya and Virginia. They shared their own experiences of transition and set the tone of the day remarkably well. It was inspirational to hear ‘the voice of the child’ first-hand as they discussed their fears and expectations before going to secondary school, and how these transpired in reality. Importantly, they reminded us that teacher-student relationships are key to ensuring pupils feel valued and included in their new learning environment, and that skills for life are essential in preparing our young people for their future.

We also watched a video showcasing thoughts from children in schools across Manchester. Year Six pupils spoke about what they were looking forward to about secondary school and what worried them, whilst Year 7 students shared the solutions they thought might help with transition. Friendship was a main priority, followed closely by getting lost in a bigger school! But, perhaps more surprisingly, many children said they were eager to take on more challenges, responsibilities and ‘high-school level work’ – as long as they had the right support.

Suzie Fraser: Evidence Informed Approach to Transition

After a brilliant start, we welcomed our second keynote speaker, Susie Fraser, the director of Manchester Communication Research School. Susie shared findings from the latest research which explored factors that contribute to a successful transition. Drawing from the evidence, she explained how cognitive load theory can account for children’s dip in attainment during transition, as children are overwhelmed with new routines, responsibilities and relationships.

It was really interesting to remind ourselves how a metacognitive approach can help schools in responding to their pupils’ needs holistically, thereby reducing their cognitive load and increasing capacity for curriculum learning. We discussed lots of effective strategies, from Early Help and friendship support to pre-teaching new vocabulary, which can help to ensure children are ready to take on the challenge of secondary education.

Susie provided us with many links to research and knowledge to draw upon, such as Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) guidance for transitions. This ensured we were fully engaged with the theme of the day before our first break, where we were urged to continue our discussions and collaborate!

Harriet Brettell: Bridging the writing gap with assessment KS2-KS3

After a short break, it was time to head to our first workshop of the day. I sat in on a workshop held by our very own Harriet Brettell, Senior Lead Practitioner at One Education, who helped us to explore the problem of discontinuity between KS2 and KS3. Together, we analysed real-life examples of children’s writing, trying to identify whether they had been written by a Year 6 or Year 7 pupil – this was a wonderful opportunity for colleagues from primary and secondary to come together and discover what they can learn from each other.

To help schools bridge the writing gap, Harriet explored what end of KS2 expectations would look like and what we could do to reduce the dip in attainment from KS2-KS3. We also heard about research from the EEF, which recommended disciplinary literacy in KS3 and in breaking down complex writing tasks. Crucially, these strategies rely on the participation from teachers of all subjects in order to equip pupils with both general and subject-specific writing skills. The work around assessment of literacy highlighted the importance that English cannot just be left to English teachers!

Steven Mycock: The Best Support for Year 7 Transition

After a delicious lunch, delegates were refreshed and ready to take part in the next workshop. I headed over to the workshop delivered by Steven Mycock, Assistant Headteacher at Whalley Range 11-18 High School, where he shared the fantastic strategies used to support the transition into Year 7 at his own school. Steven emphasised the importance of using parental engagement and pupil data to plan for transition proactively, rather than responding to needs as they emerge in the first weeks of term. For example, his school regularly emails parents ahead of their child’s start in September, sharing a wide range of informational and friendly videos, booklets, and virtual tours of the school.

Similarly, Steven spoke about how the Shared Manchester Transition Form can be used to inform practices and interventions, such as monitoring attendance, grouping arrangements, and putting support in place for pupils with learning or behavioural needs. This inspired a brilliant discussion; delegates explored the challenges of communicating pupil information and identified potential solutions. Representatives from MCC were keen to collect feedback which may help to further develop the city-wide support for transition and the SMTF.

Catherine Hughes: Getting Transition Right

With the day drawing to a close, we came together to hear from our final keynote speaker, Catherine Hughes, Headteacher of Loreto High School. Catherine spoke about how to build meaningful and sustainable links with partner primary schools. She began her keynote by sharing a lovely story of how the Loreto nuns shared a bus everyday with the sisters that taught at their partner primaries. She then explained that this shared heritage wasn’t enough by itself – relationships have to be constantly reinforced and renewed.

To do this, Catherine shared lots of ideas and inspiration, such as a shared calendar of events to bring schools together as a community. In her own school, this includes open evenings, fundraising projects, and the Loreto Roadshows, where pupils visit partner schools to share learning and inspire the younger generation. Partner schools also take part in extracurricular activities such as the Festival of Poetry, a joint carol service, and even celebrate awareness days together. Furthermore, Catherine talked about the success of developing a ‘Transition Team,’ dedicated to supporting pupils’ academic progress and personal development throughout the transition period. Most importantly, we learned that transition was a continual process, rather than a singular event.

Final Thoughts and Farewell!

As they say, time flies by when you’re having fun and, suddenly, the day was at an end. We took away lots of creative ideas to support pupils in making the leap from primary to secondary school.

Crucially, we hope you found new ways to collaborate with other practitioners, pupils and parents, working together for a smooth and successful transition.

If everyone is moving forward together, success takes care of itself.

Henry Ford

A huge round of applause for all our amazing keynote speakers and workshop hosts, thank you for joining us to share your passion and expertise!

Thanks to Manchester City Council for hosting the day, we look forward to working together to create more events in the future!

For further transition support, we are pleased to offer the Year 6/7 Transition Project, including a full training presentation and resource pack! Usually £50, but you can now receive a 20% discount by quoting ‘TransitionConf23.’

Download a free extract to see what you can expect.

To make a purchase, please email:

Once again, thanks to everyone who joined us for the Transition Conference 2023. We hope to see you all again very soon!

Don’t forget to visit our Conference page to book your place on our next event.

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