TT392: ‘Sikhs believe in Shorts’, ‘the Holy Triangle’ and Other Stories from the Transition Phase: a case study of KS2 to KS3 transition in religious education

This project investigates the issues surrounding academic transition from Key Stage 2 to Key Stage 3. Whilst schools make great effort in facilitating pastoral, institutional and social transition in to Secondary, academic transition beyond English and Maths is often inconsistent. Academic transition is therefore a lacuna of research.

This case study worked within the context of four Primary Schools and one Secondary School. It explored the ways in which issues such as curriculum, knowledge base, concept development, stakeholders, school structures, staffing and subject-based staff development all shape pupils’ understanding in Religious Education.

Drawing on interviews of teaching staff, pupil interviews, questionnaires, as well as educational literature on the nature of knowledge, this study seeks to see how students’ understanding of subject-specific knowledge and beliefs can be enhanced through Primary to Secondary transition.

International research indicates that will be an inevitable ‘performance dip’ when students transition from Primary to Secondary school and that boys’ performance declines faster than girls. The research indicated that it was the very nature of change (rather than, say because it happened at a certain age) that linked to the performance dip. This research also indicated that academic orientation is not always well handled; that the sharing of curriculum information rarely happens between Primary and Secondary; that teaching expectations differ and that joint collaborative work on curriculum happens rarely.

Academic transition, therefore, needs to find effective ways to bridge students’ academic understanding to compensate for the inevitable dip, rather than finding ways to wrench them out the gorge. It will rely on communities of practitioners from within disciplines to build effective bridges between KS2 and KS3.

Co-authored with Richard Kueh.