Mind the gap…..
Transitions. Nursery to primary. From age and stage within primary. Primary to secondary. Secondary to the big wide world via college, uni, work-placement. We are never done with transitions, and yet at a recent event looking at transitions, particularly from secondary school to further and higher education, all I could hear was the public-service announcement of “mind the gap”. I wanted to poke my own eye out with a fork as I listened to the matriarchs of educational institutions bang on about how what was happening in schools really wasn’t their concern and they didn’t know a lot about it anyway. I listened to others trying to pass off solid hard work done by schools as their own initiatives. I tolerated the people who were so far removed from education on the ground it was definitely a case of “I’m from Earth what planet are you on”? And I was aghast at the people who could have pitched in, that just sat back as they couldn’t be bothered.
I suppose for me, getting the transitions right for a lot of our kids is about giving them a massive boost of confidence, a big shot of “gaun yersel” and the tiniest bit of hope and belief in themselves to at least try. It struck me about the massive gap in pastoral care and guidance; we look after our children so well at secondary school, guide them, nurture them and support them to transition points then we wave cheerio and start again with the next set of learners. Our original learners move out into their destinations and sometimes that transition doesn’t go as well as it should; like trying to cross a gap without a bridge or even a rope.
The gaps? The receiving institution doesn’t really know about the precious bundle they are receiving or where they are from. There is also a real lack of inter-institution dialogue. I bang on about my own subject and about conditions and challenges (and solutions) to some of the partner institutions we work with, but as a workforce “designed” to educate and communicate? Hmm – must try harder! My blood pressure was rising as people were making quite frankly crude assumptions about teaching conditions and curriculum content. Oh yes, and the gap in teacher-led knowledge and research was highlighted.
Aye. Very good. After we deal with S3 pupils transitioning into the senior-phase. With the tears and snotters from senior pupils as they fly the nest and as we deal with the meltdowns of the new S1 intake from primary, I’ll plug those gaps, or bridge them depending on my energy, then I’ll get stuck right into the gap in my teaching and learning. The practitioner based enquiry, or teacher led research, would you like that after I have fallen off the sanity cliff? Perhaps I could look at bridging the gap by taking the time to do it properly; taking the time to bridge my own gaps in learning; my own gaps in workload! That would help bridge the transition gap for my pupils. If I have gaps, what chances have my learners?
As Yoda would say: Do or do not. There is no try. Do you humble teacher take this gap to bridge for your learners?