'Passport' scheme to ease pupils' move to secondary
CHILDREN moving from primary to post-primary school will be bringing their personal Education Passport with them from now on – and they can even have a hand in filling in their important life details themselves.
The new document goes beyond the traditional report of a child's academic record to include other information that will give a broader picture of who they are and what they like.
Parents and pupils will play a role in writing up the "passport" that will be handed to the second-level school authorities.
Currently, the sixth-class report card provides information on a child's academic performance, personality, attendance, and any special educational need.
Now this will be accompanied by two other documents – one completed by the child and the other by their parents or guardians.
Sixth-class children will be given the opportunity to fill in a My Profile, sharing information such as what they are good at, what their hobbies and interests are, who their friends are and where they need additional help.
Parents will be invited to contribute any other information about their child that they feel would be of help in the transition.
To avoid the information being used for any purposes other than those which are intended, the "passport" will only be supplied to the post-primary school after confirmation of enrolment has been received.
An Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) study, for the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA), found the move from primary to post-primary education was a crucial time in young people's lives.
While most students settle relatively quickly, some are at greater risk of difficulties, including those with less self-confidence and a poor self-image and students from Traveller and non-national backgrounds.
How post-primary schools handle the transition process makes a difference to how quickly students settle into the new school and to their academic progress.
The new "passport" is intended to provide valuable information in order to ease the transition and ensure that children are not being left unsupported.
While it is optional for this September, next year it will be compulsory and primary schools will be obliged to pass on a completed My Child's Profile, the child's My Profile and the 6th Class Report Card for every pupil.
The Education Passport was developed by the (NCCA) in consultation with parents, children, teachers, principals and education partners including the National Parents Council – Primary (NPC).
NPC chief executive Aine Lynch said the NPC believed that the sharing of information on a child transferring to post-primary would greatly support children.
She said the NPC particularly welcomed the opportunity for parents and children to be involved formally in the process through writing up the profiles.
The NCCA has produced a number of template documents that collectively make up the Education Passport, which are available on its website.
Education Minister Ruairi Quinn told the NPC annual conference that the Education Passport was part of wider moves to empower parents.
He is also finalising legislation for a Parents' and Students Charter aimed at strengthening the position of parents within the school system, and bringing about a culture change in how schools involve parents and students.
He said current legislative provisions that attempt to set out what students and parents can expect from schools were limited, with a focus on dealing with grievances.