For the second year, the academy, in First Avenue, Harlow, is holding its summer school for the new Year 7 intake.
Instead of the new starters fretting during the long summer break about starting “big school”, they have been given the opportunity to spend a week at Burnt Mill, getting to know the building and teachers.
Fun activities from circus skills to dance, drama to rocket making made sure they immediately felt relaxed and happy, making new friends along the way.
Rachel Fletcher, head of Year 7, said: “This is an opportunity for children to get to know each other, to make friends and to feel more comfortable about starting secondary school. It allays any fears they may have and makes them feel more confident about making the transition from primary school.
“It’s lovely to watch the change in them while they are here. They all arrive very shy and quiet and by break time they are mingling and mixing with people they have just met.
“One of the biggest fears of starting secondary is finding their way around as it’s so much bigger than primary school. These students are already getting their bearings which can only make them feel confident about starting here full-time.
“It’s also a great opportunity for us as teachers to get to know the students in a relaxed environment. Over the last couple of months, I have been out to the primary schools to answer questions and concerns about life at Burnt Mill and the children have been in for taster days. The summer school is the final step between leaving primary school and starting secondary.”
The summer school ran for the first week and will run again during the last week of the break.
Skilled partners who regularly work with Burnt Mill ran workshops, along with the teaching assistants who will work closely with the new Year 7.
Scott Simpson, of Makin’ Steps performing arts school which holds workshops and works with students during their Btec street dance module at Burnt Mill, held street dance classes during summer school. He said: “The children have all been really responsive. By the end of each session, they were really getting the routines and relaxing with each other.”
Attendance numbers tripled this year compared to last, with half of the year group signing up to summer school.
A popular session was rocket making with Peter Barratt, of Hart Rockets, based at Hornchurch Airfield, where students got to launch their rockets from the school field.
Sam Ashford, of Livewire community youth theatre, helped youngsters get to know each other with drama activities.
He said: “I have been encouraging the students to relax around each other by setting lots of little challenges and putting them into different groups.”
Elloise Robertson-Gray, 11, joins Year 7 in September, having left Henry Moore Primary. She said: “Summer school has been really fun. We’ve been able to socialise and make new friends. The teachers have been interacting with us and making sure we are having a good time. They’ve made me feel really welcome and now I know the building a bit better I feel good about starting here in September.”
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