Capturing pupils' own experience of transition was important to us. We did this through our Changing Key study and through our series of  '6 into 7' videos. 

Changing Key researchers conducted one to one interviews with 25 pupils in three contrasting localities in England. Pupils’ journeys were described across a four stage cycle:

preparation (Year 6 term 3);
encounter (Year 7 term 1);
adjustment (Year 7 term 2);
stabilisation (Year 7 term 3)

The research adopted a holistic approach by inviting pupils to talk about their perceptions of music in their broader lives and how this connected to their school experiences of musical learning across four school terms. The research considered how musical resources and pedagogy provided by primary and secondary schools intersects with adolescent development. Download Changing Key report

Although Changing Key is a small sample, findings suggested many pupils perceived a sharp division in the provision of classroom music and resources for learning instruments between primary and secondary school. This suggested that many adolescents would have benefited from more complex music teaching at primary school and from a more accurate match between demand for and provision of instrumental lessons at secondary school.

Year 7 was a critical year for newly arrived students. Despite high musical aspirations expressed by most interviewees on arrival, many began defining themselves as non-musical during the coming year. This can be explained by long delays in signing up for instrumental lessons, failure to pass auditions in extra-curricular musical activities and by comparing themselves to peers who could already play instruments. Students who received private tuition judged themselves special and musically talented in comparison with other students.

These sometimes narrow views of what it means to be ‘musical’ highlight the importance of an inclusive music education in schools; one in which schools value the widest range of students’ musical engagement both in and outside school.

Encouraging students to think more broadly about their musical experience and musicality is the best way for them to avoid making premature negative judgments about their musical identities and those of others.

 6 into 7

View more videos and interviews from the 6 into 7 on Radiowaves

Pupils from schools in Penzance and Battersea have been documenting their transition from Primary to Secondary by creating videos about their musical experiences. During the last months of year 6, pupils from Newlyn Primary in Penzance, and Chesterton Primary in Battersea created video reports about their expectations of music in secondary school, their school bands and what they liked and disliked about music at their Primary school. After their move into secondary school (Humphry Davy in Penzance and Battersea Park) they spent another day creating videos reflecting on their move and their experiences of music in secondary school so far. Throughout the sessions the pupils discussed the projects they had taken part in and became more aware of the different ways music is taught in Primary and Secondary.

The project will culminate in July with a final video piece in which the pupils will reflect upon their transition through interviews and blogs.

A Paul Hamlyn Foundation Special Initiative

Musical Bridges: Transforming Transition aims to provide a continuous and progressive musical experience for 9-13 year olds that supports their personal, social and educational development.