Secondary Focus Day in Deaf Education

Presented on Monday 22nd October, 2012

Transitions to Secondary School

Kathleen Mclean, Principal Teacher, Montrose Road Centre, Forfar

Angus Hearing Support Service

Support around 100 children

Notes: In Angus we currently have around 100 children with a hearing impairment. Most are in mainstream schools across the authority and we have 1 hearing support base in a primary school and a support base in the neighbouring secondary school. Today I'm going to talk about our transition procedures for pupils moving from our mainstream primary to secondary schools and for those moving between the resourced schools.

What are HMIE (now Education Scotland) saying about transitions?

Primary schools

Aspect for development:

Notes: HMIE identified aspects for development in transitions which I think are specifically important to bear in mind for our deaf pupils. Closing the gap at the upper stages in primary is crucial to allow the pupils the best start in secondary school where many encounter new problems for the first time in their learning. In Angus we have a lot of small rural schools where a child is sometimes taught by the same 1 or 2 teachers throughout primary in a small classroom with few pupils where they can hear well and then suddenly find themselves in a big noisy school lots of different teachers large classes lots of pupils and their hearing loss suddenly does become a problem for them.  So we're going to look at how we try to deal with that as part of our transition process.

Secondary schools

Aspect for development:

Notes: Once in Secondary school we need to ensure that the teachers are well prepared for teaching the pupils with a hearing impairment and have a good understanding of the childs abilities, the equipment they might need to use, teaching strategies that help the pupil access information. All of our secondary schools in Angus now have at least 1 pupil with a hearing impairment in school so they are now used to our staff coming in to do deaf awareness training throughout the year and we begin this through our enhanced transition procedures that usually start in Primary 6. This is when a link person from the Secondary school starts to become involved in meetings etc for the pupil so they do have a good understanding of the pupil that is moving up and they can share that information with the staff in school which hopefully does allow them to progress as well as they can.

Curriculum for Excellence: Partnership support for CfE Effective Transitions

Notes: I was also having a look at the curriculum for excellence literature about transitions and this is something that they state is required to provide a good transition for all pupils. This is something that we ensure does happen for all our deaf pupils at transition stages and it has been more difficult to do with the mainstream schools but through trial and error when we started to find things that did work well it has become easier to replicate. And I think starting in primary 6 it gives more time to build up a relationship with the new school and staff so that by the time the pupil actually starts school everything is in place and the staff and pupil know what to expect. 

Individual Pupil Profile

In P6 ToD, pupil and parents develop a pupil profile of individual needs of the child

Notes: Starting in primary 6 the teacher of the deaf along with the pupil and the parents start to make up a pupil profile of the childs individual needs. In this we look at How the pupil accesses the curriculum, we look at their social development and think about ways to try and prevent them becoming socially isolated when they get to high school.  And we think about considerations for the school and staff in terms of training etc. I have a couple of copies of the pupil profiles just to let you see the kind of things we start to look at.

Access to the curriculum

Notes: Thinking about Access to the curriculum we think about the child's preferred mode of communication if they've been using BSL or signed supported English we need to think about how we are going to provide that in high school. If they are using an FM system the teachers in secondary school will need training on how to use it, we need to start to think about where it will be kept and charged in the secondary school. Also some pupils maybe haven’t been using an FM in primary but we might feel they would benefit from one in high school so we discuss that with the parents and pupils. We start to visit the school and look at the classrooms, in some schools we have had soundfield systems fitted for our deaf pupils going in. We talk with the parents and pupils about special exam arrangements and whether the pupil is going to need pre or post tutoring and if so when will this be done. Some parents decide to have their child drop a subject and use that time for pre-tutoring with a teacher of the deaf. While this does work really well it does mean them missing out on a subject and it is usually music or a foreign language which I know is not ideal but in the cases where we have done this the pupils have really benefitted in all their other subjects by have this pre tutoring time built in to their timetable. 

Social Development

Notes: We think about their social development. Often they will be the only person in the secondary with a cochlear implant or hearing aids and sometimes we find that while they were okay about this in primary school once they get to secondary they can become more self-conscious, there's lots of new people they start to feel different, self-esteem goes down. So we try to think about ways to prevent this. We try to think about ways the pupils can meet other deaf pupils and they are invited to join outings with the pupils from the hearing support base in the secondary school. Start to think about their interests and try to encourage them to join in with the extra curricular activities when they start school. With the children going from the resourced primary to the resourced secondary they start to join the weekly deaf studies group in the Secondary school from Primary 6. And then in Primary 7 they start to make additional weekly visits to the school after the Easter holidays. During this time the teacher of the deaf in the secondary school takes them around the school to visit the library, social area, canteen, they will go at lunch time order lunch get to sit in the canteen - experience how noisy it is - they visit the classrooms so by the time they come up for their weeks visits with the other P7s they already familiar with the school and some of the staff. For those going between mainstream schools they also make similar additional visits to their school, sometimes with their parents and they are given a link teacher from the secondary school who they get to know and who will support them in secondary school, this is usually the guidance or PCS teacher.

Considerations for the Secondary School

Notes: The last thing we look at is any staffing implications or considerations for the school. For example will they need a communication support worker or a support assistant. What is the role of the teacher of the deaf going to be. And we also start to think about deaf awareness training for the school, for the staff and pupil. 

Deaf Awareness

Notes: When the pupil is in Primary 7 the teacher of the deaf will go out to the neighbouring primary schools and deliver deaf awareness training with the other P7 classes. Prior to the P7s visit to the high school, individual teachers will receive deaf awareness training and share pupil information. The pupils create a top tips sheet which is given to all their teachers and produce a DVD for their teachers to watch. In one transition we also invited a sixth former from another school to speak at the in-service training about his experience of being a cochlear implant user in secondary school. This was very effective and the feedback from staff was that this had a much greater impact on them. The teachers also find the pupils own DVDs extremely useful. 

Resources for transitions

Curriculum for Excellence

Across all transitions, it is vital that this is a shared activity, based on professional dialogue and joint planning.