I just happened to be reading a blog by Don Ledingham about a forthcoming conference when my eye caught this phrase “Transition beyond Secondary school” It’s something that has exercised my mind for a very long while.
If a pupil is in the top quarter of ability and in some schools the top 1 or 2 percent the roadmap of early life is clear and well-marked. You automatically rise through the primary school from P1 to P7 and more or less automatically transfer to secondary school. From there with a lot of help from careers and guidance teachers you will be expected to go to university, perhaps with an exciting gap year. The path through all this will be made a smooth as possible.
If however you are one of the rest (over 90% of your year group in some cases), somebody somewhere will have pointed out your academic failings. It might not be a teacher; it could be a fellow pupil or it could be the subtle relentless exam records. You will however still rise automatically as everybody else does to the point of departure from secondary school. At that point some teacher or other might say something about going to college or getting a job but you will be left to your own resources to accomplish this, particularly if by the end of secondary you really just want to get out. If you are lucky you might end up with a job or even manage the minefield of getting into college. Have you ever noticed in fast food chains how all the employees are just out of school, year after year after year.
Now wouldn’t it be nice if schools particularly those with a large proportion of non-academic pupils were to leave the bright university types to look after their own transition and were to put a really enormous and imaginative amount of effort into making sure that every other pupil was equipped with life skills and had found a place in college or a job or apprenticeship with prospects before they left school. It might even help the juvenile crime rate.