Post 13+ Common Entrance Ideas for children
By Victoria Burrill
29 Jun

It’s over! The exams are finished.  The anxiety is abating.  Now what?  It’s a long hard slog towards the 13+.  Schoolwork, homework, revision… Life after 13+ can feel like being cast adrift, for both teachers and students alike.  So how can you best use this time, keep your exhausted students (and teachers) engaged and add something to their education that perhaps other moments in their school career may not allow? 
Get out of your comfort zone

With time on your side, venturing beyond the classroom is a great option.  Doing physical activities makes a welcome change from sedentary revision.  This could be the moment to plan an outward bound trip, a hiking challenge, camping expedition or even a day out learning how to navigate around your own city or town using maps and public transport.  As children approach the end of their time at prep school, making memories to take forward to their new schools is essential to support transition and retain a sense of community and positivity.
Get involved in the community

After exams have finished, it might be time to start giving back to your school or even the wider community.  Students have gained many skills sat at a desk, but what life skills could they gain by volunteering or helping others?  Year 8s could help in the lower years, joining in with playtimes, helping with reading or acting as an extra teaching assistant.  Charity events could be planned and carried out by students within the school.  Beyond the gates, they could volunteer at a local nursing home, visiting the residents and keeping them company.  If you have a link with another school, they could help out there with a Sports Day or other special event.  They might even plan a lesson to deliver to a younger year group, sharing a skill they have.  It could be a language or a particular game they enjoy playing.  In doing service activities like this, students will use their time after 13+ to develop not only as learners but as active members of the community. 
Explore beyond the curriculum

Common Entrance is limited to a certain number of subjects so students could take the opportunity to explore other, non-examined subjects.  They could embark on an extended art project, put on a play or performance in Drama or Music.  An interesting added element to this would be to allow the children the choice of what to do, and enable them to plan and produce something independently.  They could devise and rehearse an end of term review for an assembly, put together a band or orchestra using combined talents and give a concert, or create a lasting piece of art to be displayed in school once they have left.  Learning how to work independently and collaboratively is excellent preparation for secondary school as well as being great fun.
Learn a new skill

There may be some specific skills that children have not been able to develop at school that post CE weeks could be used to learn.  Cooking, sewing, cycling, dancing, self-defence, backgammon, juggling, trampolining… the list is endless.  There are many providers of workshops available around the country.  Alternatively, use the skills of your staff to run workshops or even invite children who have different talents and skills to run workshops themselves.  Sharing these new experiences may spark an interest for some students that they will take onto secondary school.
Commemorate your time at school

For some children, leaving at the end of Year 8, they are ending a 10 year stint at one school.  In order to help them mark this considerable change, offer the students a way to commemorate their years at school.  This could be something simple like a yearbook, or something more complex like a patchwork quilt of faces, a video or a piece of art.  They could write letters to their teachers, thanking them or recounting their favourite stories from their time at school.  They could give each other awards, for example ‘funniest moment on a school trip’ or ‘ most likely to end up as Prime Minister’.  Allow them positive, productive and lasting ways to adjust to the transition that faces them. 


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