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Getting ready - small steps can make a big difference

This stage of the toolkit provides practical ideas for early years providers as they support children in their final year before school.

teacher reading to class

The stage emphasises good child-centred transition based on respectful relationships. It promotes realistic expectations for children, which are linked appropriately with the developmental stages, in the year prior to school entry. The Leicestershire school ready statements provide settings with a frame work for good practice. 

School Readiness - A shared understanding across Leicestershire. A booklet for professionals.

This booklet states how important it is for early years providers and schools to respectfully work together, and sensitively support families, as they prepare all children for the best possible start to life at school. 

“Ready early year’s providers and schools help children when they have high expectations and a child-centred approach”.  

This initial statement highlights the need to prepare children for the increasing demands of school life, whilst having a child-centred approach which reflects good educational practice. This means that we need to

Know each child well, understand and respond to their interests”,

Give each child time, space and support to express their feelings and talk about what matters to them”

The child's voice poster 

This good practice example describes the transition process and gives ideas of how to support individual children. There are examples of a small group activity, transitional notes, a transition plan for learning, a child passport, an example of a Progress Summary and a Transition Box. The key person is:

Well informed and experienced in Early Year’s, Child Development and current initiatives”.

This attention to detail will inform the new key person in school, as they

“Create a learning environment which is welcoming, safe and suitable for everyone’s needs.”

Have you considered how to plan for transition throughout the year?

Parents and carers will receive school admissions information together with a "Ready for school?" leaflet early in the Autumn Term. 

When supporting parents, it is important to consider that each family is unique, with their own strengths and challenges. It is not who parents are, or where they live, that makes a difference, but what they do to support their children. Early years settings who prioritise working with families and take the time to give practical ideas about preparing for school can transform a child’s transition experience.

“Support families, giving ideas and information about getting ready for school”

Good practice example - Green Fingers Nursery  Opens new window

This good practice example gives ideas for using the family leaflet including a poster, interactive display and planning for a school ready information evening.

How do you ensure that parents have all the information they need to prepare their children for school?

Pacey have produced some additional resources to share with parents

It is important to

“Build strong connections with families, and listen to what they say about their child”

The parents’ leaflet includes ‘child ready statements’ for a child developing ‘typically’ for their age. Starting points are different for each person, for example, a younger child, a child with developmental delay or an anxious child affected by difficult family circumstances.

Parents may be experiencing anxiety too. To provide effective support, it is important that practitioners have both a sound knowledge of child development and the ability to “tune in” to the individual child and family needs. Building genuine relationships with families is a crucial part of working together to promote being ready for school.

Good practice example - supporting families emotional well-being  Opens new window

Conversations worth having - How well do you and your practitioners relate to all parents and carers?

“Give plenty of time for transition talks and visits, recognising that some families and children may need extra support”.

Gather information from other professionals and use this to plan and provide appropriate learning and care”.

All children benefit greatly from transition visits. Some children will have identified special needs and /or disabilities. Others may have emerging needs which are not formally recognised. Children may have increased levels of anxiety or struggle to manage change due to past experiences or present family circumstances.

How do you ensure that transition plans take into account the needs of individual children and their families?

Children in care

Transition can be especially challenging for adopted children and children in care. The children will need sensitive support. There will need to be plenty of time to allow for liaising with other professionals and to ensure that appropriate support is in place. Early Years Pupil Premium funding can help to facilitate enhanced transition arrangements.

Good practice example - Mind the gap (children in care)  Opens new window

Starting school for children in care 

Further information to support children in care

Sharing Information

In order to provide good transition, it is important that practitioners

“Share and value relevant records and information to ensure schools provide continuity and ongoing progress in learning”.

Building good relationships is a key to effective transition and information sharing:

  • How do you take initiative to build relationships with schools?
  • Are you able to share special events throughout the year?
  • Do you try to provide unhurried opportunities for teachers to observe children in their familiar setting, and spend uninterrupted time talking with their key person?

Think of creative ways of passing on helpful and relevant information to support future care and learning. Good information sharing helps to

“Ensure that what each child can do provides a starting point for their learning and development”.

Sometimes settings are concerned about data protection and are unsure about which information to share and who to share it with. Information sharing

Good practice example: Donna’s dilemma

Using the positive practice tool approach Donna, a new deputy manager asks her manager about what to pass on to school, how to engage with schools more effectively, and how to provide support for a less experienced practitioner.

“Build confidence and independence-thoughtfully praise each child’s efforts and achievements”.

Bringing closure to the pre-school experience is an important part of preparing children and families for the next stage of their journey; how do you celebrate each child’s unique contribution and achievements, and say goodbye to children and their families?

The summer holiday can provide a great opportunity to prepare for entry to school. It is important to view things from a child’s perspective and choose to

“Make learning fun!”

Good Practice example: Rufus remembers… Billy - Rufus and Fatima’s special summer.

This example is written from a child’s view point. Child minder June provides memorable experiences which help children get ready for school. It includes:-

50 things to do before you start school 

We’re going on a journey Opens new window

The following links provide key information about education for school age children in Leicestershire. Some families may need extra support. They may have recently moved into the area. Perhaps they are still adjusting to a different cultural environment, and new to learning English as an additional language. It is important to listen to parents and carers and sensitively find out if there is anything you can do to help them prepare for school.

School Admissions

The School Admissions page, which contains the 'Your Guide to Primary Education in Leicestershire' is useful to signpost parents/carers to. The guide also includes a section on deferred or part time starts.

If parents are considering ‘elective home education’ helpful guide lines are available.

Settings and schools have a responsibility to help ensure that all children are kept safe and have access to education. Please refer to Children Missing Education in the Early Years.  

Helpful Documents

EYFS Statutory Framework

The standards that school and childcare providers must meet for the learning, development and care of children from birth to 5.

Development Matters

Non-statutory curriculum guidance for the early years foundation stage (updated 2021). 

Birth to 5 Matters

Guidance by the sector, for the sector.

What to expect in the Early Years Foundation Stage: a guide for parents

This booklet helps parents/carers support their children’s learning and developing during their first five years, in relation to the EYFS.

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