One of the most important transitions in a young person’s life is the move to secondary school, a transition that encompasses so many changes. Such as the change in environment and becoming more independent. Or that change in relationships with friends and teachers. Or the changes that come as a result of moving into adolescence which often occurs at the same time as the move into secondary school.

Through a brand new partnership with West London Zone, we have been delivering training to support students in a West London school who are going through the transition this summer. The ultimate aim is to support participants to transition successfully and have a foundation of skill and knowledge that they can lean on when other transitions present themselves later in life.

In January 2020, Leap launched a new 5-year strategy which set out plans to begin working with young people aged 10-15. One of our priorities within this area of work is supporting young people to have a successful transition from Year 6 into Year 7, as research shows that this period of change can be challenging for some young people.

Earlier this month, I caught up with Ella Peterman, Link Worker for *West London Zone. For the last two years, Ella has been working in a primary school in Hammersmith, supporting a cohort of 40 young people aged between 5 and 11. The children receive a personalised and intensive support programme tailored to their strengths, needs and aspirations. Many of the children receive academic support, but the Link Worker also supports the young person both socially and emotionally.

Recently, as part of our Transitions programme, the team at Leap have collaborated with West London Zone to deliver digital and face to face group training for Year 6 students. I asked Ella some questions to learn more about West London Zone, the new partnership with Leap, and to find out how the programme delivery has gone so far:

Firstly, how did the partnership between Leap and West London Zone come about?

Ella: In the planning stages of the programme, the Link Worker engages with the children’s families to develop a support package for each young person, which includes identifying any other agencies or organisations to be involved. The team at West London Zone had heard about Leap’s offer, and we saw this as a great opportunity to form a partnership to support our Year 6 Students through their transition to secondary school.

What were your initial impressions of Leap?

Ella: I was always very impressed with Leap’s approach. It was very thorough. I met with Alex (Leap’s Innovation Manager) several times to plan the sessions, and Alex worked hard to really understand the young people’s individual needs and to tailor the programme accordingly. This helped to ensure that every workshop was as beneficial as possible for the young people.

What did the delivery of the programme look like?

Ella: The programme was mapped out as six sessions over six weeks. We were able to deliver three sessions in the school before lockdown happened. During these sessions, the three facilitators bounced off each other very well. They addressed different themes relating to transition, challenges, support networks and peers, including lots of interactive activities and team building. The young people were encouraged to explore their emotions through drama, art and discussion. There were 12 young people in the group, including a lot of big personalities and mixed levels of engagement. The facilitators did a great job of adapting to any of the challenges presented in the room.

What happened when lockdown hit, and the training could no longer be delivered in the school?

Ella: In July, we moved to online delivery for the remaining four weeks of the programme. I wasn’t sure what to expect from delivery via Zoom, but I was surprised to see how successful the sessions were. Alex was really good at giving all of the young people the time and space to have their voices heard.

What are your impressions of the digital delivery?

Ella: Leap did a really good job at adapting the content for an online environment. The trainers brought a lot of energy and enthusiasm to ensure that the sessions were still very interactive. Leap created a fun and playful environment for the young people, and it was so good to see them laughing and having a good time online, where it can sometimes be difficult to maintain that dynamic. I could see that the young people enjoyed contributing their own ideas to discussions, and participating in the games in a relaxed environment.

Not only were the sessions fun and interactive, but Leap also managed to build a very safe and welcoming space. The sessions did not feel daunting at all, even though it was a new environment. Alex treated the young people with real respect and professionality. Leap made use of the breakout rooms for small group work, and I know that the young people really appreciated this space to talk about different conflict situations and how to manage them. Throughout the sessions, everything was well presented, with great use of interactive digital tools and visual aids.

What was the impact of the sessions for the young people?

Ella: The sessions really encouraged young people to take more time to reflect on and recognise their emotions. The activities also helped to boost their self-confidence. By the end of the programme, the young people were equipped with different strategies to use in conflict situations during their transition to secondary school.

Will West London Zone be doing more work with Leap in the future?

Ella: Definitely! We are really keen to run a similar programme with future cohorts. I know that West London Zone are excited about continuing this partnership, and conversations are already underway…

If you would like to find out more about Leap’s Transitions programme, or to enquire about our digital or face to face group training offer for young people in schools, please get in touch with

*West London Zone is a charity working to achieve a West London community where all children and young people have access to the support they need to enable them to overcome challenges and achieve their goals. The charity works with children up to the age of 16 in schools across four West London boroughs. Each school supported by the programme has a Link Worker embedded, working with a selected cohort of children over a two-year period.

Ella is now running Tie Dye Drama company, working to boost young people’s wellbeing through drama.