Getting started

The simplest thing you can do to support transition is to talk to other teachers who will be working with your pupils before or after their transfer to secondary school

Violin class

Making contact with local teachers

Contacting your opposite number needn’t be complex or formal. Your first steps could be:

  • Visiting musical events in local primary or secondary schools to gain an insight into students’ music making
  • Arranging an informal chat to find out about the music curriculum and what they expect from their students
  • Inviting your counterpart to visit your class, with a reciprocal visit for you to see his or her class, and sharing your insights and questions with each other
  • Developing one idea together to strengthen cross-phase continuity for pupils – be clear about what you want to achieve, but realistic. It’s better to start small and see results than to overburden yourselves and struggle to implement the plans
  • Contacting your local Music Education Hub or music service to find out how they can support transition

Build cross-phase dialogue and understanding

Share your practice with your partner school and explore together how you can build progression into your pupils' musical learning as they transfer from primary to secondary school

It was good to observe the differences in practice
It's really raised my expectations
I was surprised how much practical music making was taking place in primary
My schemes of work are now more in-depth and I certainly expect more of my Year 7s right from the beginning
We've introduced a great new bridging unit and more independent learning opportunities

Why not host some joined up music making?

Many schools work together to enable primary and secondary pupils to share in a joint performance, often as part of a ‘transition day’ for year 6 pupils at their new secondary school. Longer term collaborations include joint choirs and ensembles, or programmes that bring secondary school pupils into primary music lessons as mentors.

Consider the practicalities

1. Talk to senior leaders about your plans and your ideas
Fit your transition plans in with whole school transition arrangements. Think about dates, venue, accommodation and travel, and organise your music making so that you have enough time to engage in some in depth activity (ideally a whole day).
2. Arrange a planning meeting with everyone involved
Set your objectives: decide what you want your pupils to achieve and what you want to achieve professionally. Arrange preparatory cross phase visits between primary and secondary teachers to each other’s schools to see pupils in action.
3. Decide on a realistic and manageable repertoire
Make sure that the repertoire has opportunities to engage all pupils. Are there opportunities for creative/compositional activities as well as a range of instrumental and vocal work? Will all pupils have a ‘new ‘experience?
4. Plan for shared delivery and some team teaching
Ensure all adults and older supporting pupils are given appropriate roles and are clear about them. Share the leading of activities to build a ‘community of engagement’. Make sure that all adults are aware of any pupils who require specific support.
5. Getting into the detail of the delivery
Make sure that there are warm up activities to put pupils at their ease. If pupils are rotating across a range of activities make sure there is enough time for development and consolidation. Ensure that staff are consistent in their approach, i.e. to behaviour management.
6. Other logistical details
Prepare name labels for all staff and pupils. Make sure that playtime and lunchtime arrangements are well organised. These details are important for socialising. Ensure that secure arrangements are in place for visiting pupils who are bringing instruments.
7. Let all pupils know what to expect
Inform parents and ensure all pupils are familiar with the timetable for the event. Of course the event should be enjoyable but make sure that visiting pupils are clear about behaviour management, both for the less confident as well as the exuberant pupil!
8. Keep a record
Record the event - gain the necessary permissions for videoing or taking photographs beforehand. Invite pupils to share their feelings about their experiences. Design a simple certificate for the Y6 pupils to celebrate their involvement.
9. After the event – what next?
Plan a follow-up meeting for all adults involved to share feedback. Make sure that this is also shared with SLT. Plan some further cross-phase visits to share more detail about shared curriculum opportunities and plan further ‘playing days’ across the annual cycle.

Try our Five Tracks resources

Perfect for cross-phase workshops or as a bridging unit. MP3s, sheet music and teaching notes for primary and secondary schools are available, all as one easy to use bundle.

Learn more about Musical Bridges and how schools are transforming transition

An introduction to Musical Bridges

The North Downs Schools Partnership Community Choir project

Bringing senior leaders on board