EDITORIAL: Transition process key
Sat, 05/28/2016 - 12:00am
ON May 3, students by the thousands sat the Barbados Secondary School Entrance Examination (BSSEE), commonly referred to as the Common Entrance Exam or the 11-Plus.
When it was all over many students, and perhaps even teachers, breathed a collective sigh of relief. It was finally completed and for many, a weight had been lifted. The pressure was off. The pressure may be on again soon however, as students, their parents and teachers receive the Common Entrance Exam results. These should be released by the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation sometime next month.
For the purpose of this editorial however, the focus will not be on the writing of the Common Entrance Exam as a means of allocation to secondary school. There is enough debate on that at present. Rather, the focus will be on the transition process that sees students moving from primary to secondary school. Indeed, it can be argued that in some primary schools, great emphasis is placed on performance and outcomes as it relates to completing tests ahead of the big exam. While this is good to some degree, we need to see primary schools working to ensure that students can successfully make the switch from primary to secondary school. There should be some follow-up process to ensure that students have settled in well. This should be a collaborative effort or endeavour, supported by teachers and parents via the Parent-Teacher Associations and even a willing group of outgoing students, who could band together to aid the process.
Making a successful transition to secondary school, of course, may be dependent on a number of factors – whether the student was able to get into the desired school of choice, whether parents are supportive of the child and working with him or her in the settling in process, whether principals and teachers at the new school have a system in place to welcome and assist newcomers, whether the newcomers make friends easily or are joined by some former classmates at the new school, etc. For some, the move will be a welcomed change. For others, it may be an intimidating process and a feeling of loss and unfamiliarity may take over, as the student now has to adjust to a whole new environment. Whatever the case, being able to stay connected to teachers, parents or friends from your alma mater, who continue to genuinely show an interest in your development as you grow, could prove helpful to those students making the jump to secondary school.
It is clear to all of us who have been there and done that, that secondary school is a whole new ball game. While students may have been babied and coddled at primary school, they will now have to fend for themselves, while taking on heavier workloads. They will have to rely on their best strengths to become well-rounded productive beings in a new student body. Issues related to the use and abuse of drugs, sexual relationships and promiscuity, bullying, violence, peer pressure, etc. will be present in a number of secondary school environments and children will have to navigate all these vices, while going through their social, emotional and physical development.
Of course, parents will have to step up to the plate and do their part to assist their children who are making this critical transition. Parents will need to monitor and follow up on their child, from first form, onwards. Too many parents are relying on the school to do it all and this will not lead to good outcomes. That said, we wish all students who will be making that big transition this year, all the best.