New education plan to help children transition through school

Buddy Bears will form part of the Ipswich Opportunity Area early years transition.

A plan for Ipswich and Felixstowe school children moving from nursery or pre-school to primary school has been formed. - Credit: Getty/IOA

A 'buddy bears' scheme has been unveiled as part of a transition plan for Ipswich and Felixstowe children moving from nursery or pre-school to primary school. 

The plan by Ipswich Opportunity Area and the Early Years Network aims to help children’s emotional wellbeing as they move up from pre-school or nursery.

The opportunity area hopes the project will become the norm across Suffolk in future years and has 34 education settings taking part.

A spokesperson from Ipswich Opportunity Area said: “Closer working this year between nurseries and schools has been transformational, with staff telling us that they know much better how to support families as children move between settings.

“Early years practitioners and teachers have been able to share with each other the approaches they use to help children’s early development – and it's not only about sharing expertise, they’ve been able to plan activities together which makes for a much better experience.

Primary schools would receive a common transfer document for each child about what may be needed for that child as they join.

In addition, each nursery or pre-school will have a 'buddy bear' with a knitted jumper in their classroom, with a bear in the same jumper being present in their new primary school classroom to provide familiarity.

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The IOA spokesperson said: “Buddy Bear is a really visible example of this – he’s part of the storytelling in nursery about going up to ‘big school’ and he’s there in their classroom waiting for them in September.

"This consistency is so important to reassure children that the adults around them are working together to support them.

Other measures have been developed as part of the transition, including handing out book bags with activities around motor skills, numeracy, literacy and other key skills; video materials such as introductions to the school and headteacher; flyers with essential information produced in 18 different languages; and outreach sessions.

It comes as part of a wider Transitions Charter established by the Ipswich Opportunity Area in Ipswich and Felixstowe which aims to make the transition across all levels of education as seamless and consistent as possible, regardless of school transferred from or to.

An Early Years Conference is being held on June 7 with more information for schools, which aims to help recruit schools, pre-schools and nurseries from elsewhere in Suffolk to the scheme.