“It makes me happy because I already know him”

Moving from primary school to secondary school is one of the biggest transitions in a child’s educational development. From being a big fish in a small pond, moving up to Year 7 and being one of the youngest pupils in a school of 1300+ people is an astronomical change to the system.

For Josh, moving from Acklam Whin Primary to Acklam Grange School was a daunting task, especially with almost all of his friends moving on to different senior schools in the local area.

Walking through the school gates for the first time and being surrounded by a sea of new faces, there was always one person Josh could turn to for familiarity, MFC Foundation Transition Coach Matthew Kirk.

“It makes me happy because I already know him, and I enjoy seeing people that I don’t really see as often as I can.”

In May 2016, MFC Foundation commenced a pioneering new programme which focuses on supporting children through their transition.

Stepping Up employs MFC Foundation Transition Coaches in primary schools, six months prior to their move up to secondary school. The Transition Coaches work with Year 6 children on a variety of sport and educational activities, both universally and through targeted interventions.

“If you know someone then it builds your confidence up high, and they might look after you if you were to get bullied,” said Josh.

“If you don’t know anyone then you can feel like perhaps there isn’t anyone there who can help you out.”

Over the summer, MFC Foundation hosted a two-week Summer School for primary school children who were about to start their first year at Acklam Grange. The children were based at the school, taking part in a number of activities including sport, arts and crafts and drama.

“You get to know your surroundings and where to go, as there is names on the buildings so you can learn them instead of going from building to building to find your class.”

“I enjoyed the tour around Rockliffe, the BBQ, and meeting new friends. It’s all fun and I really enjoyed it, and I hope it’s on next year for the new Year 7’s!”

Matt Kirk works in just one of our affiliated senior schools, which also includes Unity City Academy and Trinity Catholic College.

“I think that first and foremost it gives the children a platform to build the relationship with a member of staff, or an external member of staff such as ourselves,” he said.

“We’ve been working with some of the children in our Summer Schools in preparation of their move to Acklam Grange. We get to know the parents through out after school clubs and build a relationship with them, as well as our Premier League Kicks sessions on an evening, in which Josh has been a regular attender.

“When they come into Acklam Grange, it’s a familiar face; they know us, they’ve worked with us and given us their trust.”

Acklam Grange’s Head of Year Seven, Anna Wass, believes MFC Foundation’s Stepping Up programme has been hugely successful in its first year, with the bond between pupil and staff member playing a crucial role.

“I’ve worked with Matt now for over a year, and we can see the positives that has come from this programme, particularly for students like Josh.

“I think for some students the benefits really shouldn’t be underestimated, because it’s that familiarization and that familiar face. I think some people don’t appreciate how big of a change moving schools is, who doesn’t remember their first day of secondary school?

“Coupled with that, you already have that interest with the students; that hook through a hobby/sport, and through engaging with a member of staff they know and like, their performance in both that hobby and academically will improve massively.”

“It’s almost like having a mentor to look up to and to guide them, and I feel overall that is an absolutely fantastic programme which should be rolled out nationally.”

Stepping Up is originally funded by Middlesbrough Council’s Public Health and Supporting Communities departments for two years, Middlesbrough Achievement Partnership for one year and MFC Foundation.