As induction day at Westonbirt School draws to a close, I am reminded of a question raised by one of my staff members who asked, “Why induction and not just immersion straight into class?”. It is a valid point; surely getting children straight into the classroom and establishing routine through the timetable is a worthy plight and starts the term ‘as we mean to go on’, but I disagree. To induct yourself into a new, unfamiliar routine or environment enables you to prepare most adequately for what is ahead. Filling bags with new pencil cases, packing your sports kit, responding to emails from your mentor or your buddy, creates the potential for an excitement for what is to come. It readies you for what is ahead. For the most nervous of school starters, it allows for fun and laughter to replace a sense of silence as you fear to put your hand up in your first lesson; it prevents that feeling of loss as you are not quite quick enough to keep up with a group as they race off from a locker to a new lesson and instead enables you to be part of a group undertaking a challenge built into your induction activity.
A good induction day steals the nerves and replaces them with an expectation and an enthusiasm to return. An effective programme will leave the student feeling they are a part of the community and ready to meet the challenge new lessons will bring and hopefully, alongside students who have already seen them in an environment where they have tried something new, won, lost or come half way between. It also allows staff to observe; to see beyond the child who interviewed, or sat the test to be here – it opens a window into their behaviours when least in routine, so we know as teachers, how to begin our task in providing the best platform for our new students to begin their new year, their new subjects and hopefully, meet their new aspirations.