Reflecting on transition procedures in the EYFS

    Published: 04 February 2021

    When I reflect on my first transition blog written almost a year ago on the importance of supporting smooth transitions in the Early Years, it is plain to see how the hard work of practitioners have put in to ensuring that children have been able to settle into their new environments and establish relationships with parents/carers, even with social distancing restrictions in place, is awe-inspiring. Information for over 13,000 Hertfordshire children was shared between settings and schools in the summer term as part of the supporting smooth transitions project. This has contributed to many children’s successful start to school.


    School children playing


    Whilst once again finding ourselves in a lockdown situation, it is important to remain reflective in relation to practice as well as responsive to this ever-changing situation. To quote Alistair Bryce Clegg, “Transition is a process not an event,” and whilst this comment may be made in the context of moving from Reception into Key Stage One, it is no less true for children moving into EYFS provision. We are a long way down the road from children turning up for the first day of school with teachers and practitioners having no background information to enable them to plan appropriate provision, although it may have felt like that a bit this year. When I reflect on opportunities that were offered to families, introducing them to the school and the procedures put in place to exchange information about children, it is clear that transition processes were thoughtfully and sensitively adapted. The settling-in period may have taken longer than in previous years but that was to be expected and has, once again, demonstrated the adaptability of schools to meet the needs of children.

    Entering the spring term, Early Years practitioners will be aware that the admissions deadline has now passed and, with what might feel like déjà vu, transition procedures need to be reviewed and most likely amended. In the Supporting Smooth Transitions toolkit there is a detailed audit that schools can use which allows them to ensure their procedures are effective. It also provides information on ways to enhance transition to meet the needs of children who might require a more individualised transition. It is divided into three sections to ensure schools consider transition through the eyes of the child and family as well as the school and practitioners.

    Table with text


    As mentioned, in light of the current situation, there are some adaptions schools and practitioners can implement to ensure a successful transition for every child and family. Below are some examples of what schools might like to consider to strengthen transition procedures in preparation for new starters:

    Transition through the eyes of the child

    How will I know which school I am going to, what class I will be in and who my teachers are?
    • Have you updated staff information on the school website?
    • Could you send a personal letter/postcard to each child with information about their new teacher?

    Will the teachers know who I am and what I like to do?

    • Have you established policies for remote ‘home visits’?
    • Could you request photographs of the children prior to them starting?
    How will I know where to put my belongings and where to look to help me find the things that I like to play with?
    • Are there photographs/videos of the learning environment available on the website?
    • Could you send a blank peg label home for the children to decorate ready for their first day?
    What will I do when I am at school?
    • Could you send a visual timetable for the first day/week in school for children to have prior to starting?

    If I’m sad or someone hurts me, who will help me?

    • Have you included a child friendly version of your school’s behaviour policy in the induction materials?


    Effective transition for parents/carers

    What does the school expect from me as a parent/carer?
    • Is your school website up-to-date with information about remote learning?
    • Could an annual events calendar be shared highlighting key dates such as charity days / trips / consultations?
    What will the school do to meet my child’s needs?
    • Have you included information about the school SENDCo as part of the induction?
    Will the school provide me with opportunities to meet other parents/carers?
    • Could a class parent/carer representative be a positive addition to strengthen family-school relationships?
    • Do you share procedures for how issues can be raised with class teachers?

    What will the school do to

    ensure my child is safe and happy?
    • Are policies easily accessible on the school website?
    • Could you demonstrate successful transition through case studies from previous years?


    Effective transition practice for practitioners/schools/settings

    Do leaders understand that transition is a process and not a singular event?
    • Have you recorded the strategies implemented last year and the impact they made?
    Have staff started to build positive relationships with parents/carers before the children start school?
    • Have you considered establishing a dedicated transition email address and section on the website?
    • Could you schedule phone calls with families new to the school?

    Are staff aware of children with SEND or those that will need additional support to settle?

    • Is time put aside for the SENDCo to meet with the EYFS practitioners to discuss the needs of new starters?
    • Could the SENDCo attend the home visit with the class teacher?
    Is there is a warm welcome for the child and family?
    • Have you asked for family photos to be shared to display in the environment prior to the child starting?
    Do the environment, resources available and routines meet the needs of the incoming cohort?
    • Have resources been reduced to enable the effective teaching of rules and expectations?
    • Do resources reflect the families and wider community of the school?


    Children playing on playground


    “Transitions are an inevitable part of every child’s journey.” Cathy Gunning, 2020

    The effort schools and settings have put in to ensure children have had a successful start to school is commendable. A strong partnership between practitioners and families remains a vital element in children achieving their full potential. Ultimately, this is everyone’s priority.

    The Supporting Smooth Transition toolkit has been updated for 2021 along with the Transition Level of Need tool. Make sure all EYFS practitioners access the briefings on 8th and 10th February 2021 by booking your place on the CPD hub.

    (The recordings of the briefings will be accessible on HfL website)

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