How older school pupils are helping new starters settle at Doncaster secondary school

An army of year nine ‘buddies’ have been recruited at a Doncaster secondary school to help next year’s new starters – thanks to a £57,000 grant.

Monday, 7th June 2021, 6:52 pm

The buddies were recruited at Astrea Academy Woodfields, Balby, following an application process to provide advice, support and guidance to younger pupils while still at primary school – and will continue to play an active role in making sure they are all right when they join in September.

They will take responsibility for a new ‘buddy room’ at school – a safe and welcoming environment where incoming Year sevens can go for support and to relax at lunch and break times – and will be given mental health awareness training to help them develop skills in listening and how to spot issues.

The project is being paid for by the Co-op’s charity, the Co-op Foundation.

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Astrea Academy Woodlands principal Adam Atkinson with the school's Move on Up Buddies
Astrea Academy Woodlands principal Adam Atkinson with the school's Move on Up Buddies

Pupil feedback has shown that transition to secondary school typically focuses on processes and procedures, with less attention given to emotional welfare. The new Move On Up scheme seeks to make the step up to secondary positive and happy.

Luke Sadler, assistant principal at the school, said: “We received an overwhelming number of applications from students keen to be buddies, and take on the opportunity to help their younger peers settle quickly into life at Astrea Academy Woodfields. The transition to secondary is a major milestone in any child’s school journey but with the support of our newly recruited buddies and the Move On Up scheme we are confident it can be a smooth and successful one.”

The schools’s Move on Up buddies backed the project.

Aliscia Hayton-Archer said: “I want to be there for the students and be able to make them feel comfortable and happy. I found it difficult moving up from primary to secondary school and I want to make the students feel welcome and not make the change of schools difficult.”

Summer Lane added: “As an older student at Astrea Academy Woodfields I want to be a good influence on those younger than me and I want to be as helpful as possible when the new students come up.”

Olivia Boyles said: “I understand from my experience that it would be very daunting moving to a new and bigger school.”

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