Drama: Big fish, little fish

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By Pat Farringtonformer project manager, Writers in Schools Project

Make the transition from primary to secondary school trouble-free with these inclusive drama activities

Some Year 6 children look forward to moving on into secondary school, perhaps joining a sister or brother, but others start worrying about shark-like bullies or being swept away from the safe haven of primary school. As transition gets nearer, especially in the spring term when children know whether they have got their first choice school or not, suddenly it starts to seem more real. One child wrote: ‘It feels as if I’m leaving my childhood behind’, while another looked forward to having ‘a clean start to my life’.

Whatever their reaction, all children need reassurance, practical strategies to help them cope with increasing demands and ways of developing their confidence. Speaking, listening and writing activities combined with drama can be used to help children to express their feelings about transition, explore likely situations and rehearse possible responses to both positive and negative situations. This approach works best with a ‘before and after’ model – with new Year 7 children coming back to their old school to act as a panel, answering questions from Year 6s, giving advice such as ‘Don’t act flash’ and ‘Find large friends to stick up for you!’

This approach is used in the TEXT: Writers in Schools Project (funded by Cripplegate Foundation and supported by CEA@Islington and the London Borough of Islington) which has run successful writers’ residencies called ‘Big fish, little fish’ in Islington primary schools since 2003. Based on work done by two writers, Neil Arksey and Paul Herzberg, and my own research (including interviews with Year 9 anti-bullying mentors in Islington secondary schools), here are some fun activity ideas for you to try out with your class.

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