A scheme for students starting secondary school in south east Sheffield has boosted grades and reduced children’s anxieties about starting a new school.

Research into the ‘Early Riser’ scheme – which involves year six pupils starting secondary school early, at the end of the summer term – found 66% of children are making expected or better progress, compared to 40% before the scheme was introduced.

Every year there are around 5000 11 and 12 year olds who start secondary school in Sheffield.

It can be a worrying time for many young people; not knowing who their teachers are, who to contact if there is a problem and how much extra homework they can expect. To help ease these worries, in the final three weeks of the summer term, year six pupils from six primary schools in the Manor, Arbourthorne and Darnall area go to their new secondary schools Park Academy and Springs Academy to begin year seven early.

Matt Wainwright, Early Riser’s coordinator from Sheffield Park Academy, said:  “The Early Riser scheme is brilliant. Pupils can get used to the ins and outs of their new school, and meet their teachers to find out what is expected of them before the summer holidays. They are then ready to hit the ground running in September.  As a result our new year sevens are much calmer, more punctual and ready for learning.”

Eden, age 11 from Arbourthorne, who started at Sheffield Park Academy in September 2015 said: “I felt welcome and it was really fun. It was really enjoyable to meet new friends and find my way around this school.”

The scheme started in June 2015 and is in its second year. The research carried out by Sheffield Hallam University produced an evaluation of the first year of the project.

Councillor Jackie Drayton, Sheffield City Council’s Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families said: “Moving from primary to secondary school can be a stressful time for young people. This excellent work from Sheffield Park and Springs Academies has helped children when they move up, as well as boosting their confidence, it’s also helped to increase attainment for year seven pupils.

“This project is an excellent example of partnership working and its success is down to the collaboration and planning undertaken by all of those schools involved. I hope this idea is rolled out across the city and more children and young people can be supported in this way.”