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The Stepping Stones Transition Programme. Stage 1 - Pre Engagement Youth Group Convene or re-convene meetings with the Key Stakeholders to inform them about the programme and define roles and responsibilities.

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the stepping stones transition programme
The Stepping Stones

Transition Programme

Stage 1 - Pre Engagement Youth Group
  • Convene or re-convene meetings with the Key Stakeholders to inform them about the programme and define roles and responsibilities.
  • Make contact with the sixth class teachers in primary school to assess the need for pre-engagement youth group work. It has been found that if young people are not developmentally ready to fully understand the topics covered in the summer programme, they may not fully benefit from the programme.
  • Information leaflets are beneficial at this stage to aid in the teachers understanding of the aims of the programme, thus aiding the referral process
  • It is recommended that if you are convening a pre-engagement youth group of sixth class students that it should be in operation for 4/5 months prior to the commencement of the summer programme to really address the core issues such as positive relationships etc. The group should meet in the youth project setting.
  • Pre-engagement youth groups may not always be possible so your first engagement directly with young people may be at Stage 2 - the in-schools programme.
Pre engagement can also take the form of referring young people from existing youth groups. The benefit of this is that positive relationships may already have been formed between the young people themselves and/or the Youth Workers.
  • The pre engagement approach is very useful to initiate the relationship building with young people and contributes to the sustainability of the programme.
Stage 2 - In School Programme
  • A meeting is arranged with a school liaison, where the Youth Workers can discuss the requirements in relation to room size and equipment needed.
  • During this meeting, it is important that the Youth Worker is made aware of any special needs of Young People within the group.
  • The 6th class teachers will be presented with an information leaflet outlining the Young People who may benefit from the summer programme. The aim of this is to aid in the referral process. The information leaflet could also include a consent form where the parent/guardian can consent to their son/daughter to take part in the school based programme (this is optional and based around the policies and procedures of the school)
  • The aim of the Stepping Stones In-School Session is to raise awareness of the upcoming transition among the sixth class students and to identity young people who are at risk of not making a successful transition into second level education.
The sessions take place with sixth class pupils during their school day and the recommended time for the in-school session is between forty minutes to one hour, depending on the schools class timetable.
  • While conducting the in-school sessions, the facilitators should aim to identify the young people who are concerned about the transition from primary to secondary school.
  • Any observations made by a facilitator in relation to particular young people should be discreetly brought to the attention of the class teacher to determine their suitability to the summer programme.
Stage 3 - Summer Programme
  • It is important that at least one of the previous stages of engagement are used before the summer programme takes place.
  • The summer programme should run for at least one week and up to two weeks, depending on the needs of the group.
  • Some groups work better with shorter, less intense days over two weeks while other groups prefer to finish the programme within one week. This will be assessed during the referral process or in in-school sessions.
  • The programme is most effective where there are a number of different approaches to the facilitation of the various workshops e.g. discussion based, skills based, art, drama, group trips and so on.
  • The summer programme is a community-based programme and it is recommended that the majority of this programme takes place in an out-of-school location.
Stage 4 - Post Engagement Youth Group
  • Post engagement follows the summer programme (usually when the school term starts) and its main aim is to encourage the young people to avail of ongoing peer and Youth Worker support through engaging in Youth Work on a regular basis.
  • Through the process of group work, the young people are exposed to different models of Youth Work which include personal and social development, character building and, on a more long term basis, critical social education.
  • We recommend that the group meet on a weekly basis in a youth project setting. This regular engagement can assist in school retention. The focus of the group should largely determined and driven by the young people.
  • For the young people who engaged in the summer programme and decide not to get involved with a post engagement youth group, follow up should be carried out by the first mid-term break to see how they are managing themselves in secondary school. This can be done in one or more of the following ways, a) make contact with teachers, parents or peers to determine the progress of the young person, b) run a mid term camp where the focus is on their progression or challenges in Secondary School or c) a one off group trip where the young people can avail of peer support
The Stepping Stones

Summer Programme

Introduction to the Stepping Stones Programme.
  • As the name outlines, the purpose of this section is to introduce the young people to each other, the programme facilitators and the Stepping Stones Programme as a whole. On the first day, Young people are usually apprehensive, confused or anxious in a new environment.
  • Through introduction exercises, the young people will feel more welcome and comfortable within the Stepping Stones environment, thus creating the opportunity for relationship building.
  • During the introduction young people begin to identify for themselves any issues they have in relation to the upcoming transition to secondary school. They will be given the opportunity to revisit the ‘Feelings and Fears’ exercise from the in-schools sessions and deconstruct these in greater details.
  • The final part of the introduction will be to construct a group contract where the young people will agree on a code of behaviour that will need to be observed for the programme to be effective.
Friendships and Relationships
  • The aim of this session is to prepare young people to recognise that the transition from 6th class to Secondary School will involve moving from a well established set of friends to a new peer group. It will take the young people time to adapt to their new circle of friends.
  • In this session the young people will be able to identify the qualities of a good friend and also to identify their own positive qualities. It will also explore the dynamics of both male and female relationships.
  • This session also provides an opportunity for the young people to distinguish between different types of relationships that they may encounter as part of their experience in secondary school e.g. student/teacher; boy/girl; 6th year (buddy)/1st year.
Peer Pressure
  • Peer pressure exists throughout a person's schooling. This can be challenging, especially for young people entering secondary school where new norms apply and older groups may influence their peer group.
  • This session aims to make young people aware of the different forms that peer pressure takes and the ways of understanding and coping with this. It is also important for the young person to realise that it is okay to be themselves even in group circumstance.
    • Sessions on peer pressure fit well alongside sessions on:
    • Bullying
    • Individual Rights
    • Friendships & Relationships.
  • Young people moving from sixth class to secondary school are moving from a situation where they are the oldest children in primary school to being the youngest in secondary school.
  • This move can create anxieties about bullying within first year or from older children in the school. The session on bullying can help ease these anxieties and also prepare them in case they actually do experience bullying.
  • The group are made aware that bullying can take forms other than physical e.g. emotional, psychological, sexual and cyber.
  • They also are made aware as to how they might cope with it and where they can seek support in the event they are being bullied.
  • It is advisable that Youth Worker/facilitators find out what the actual bullying supports are in the secondary schools for first years in preparation for this session.
Short – Medium Term Outcomes
  • Young People develop an awareness of the issues they may face during their secondary school experience e.g. peer pressure, bullying, friendships and relationships.
  • Young People are more confident in challenging peer-pressure, bullying and stereotyping.
  • They develop a more positive attitude towards their secondary school experience.
  • They are more aware of the support systems available to them.
Rights and Choices
  • The aim of this section is to assist the young people in understanding that they have rights and that these rights can be a basis for choices that they make. We have found that young people who are “at risk” often are less aware of their rights as a secondary school student or as a young citizen.
  • Through these workshops the young people are given the opportunity to know their rights, which will assist in their integration into secondary school.
  • In addition, the young people will become aware of the choices they make for themselves and the effects of those choices. This will give them a better understanding of the responsibility that comes with the freedom to choose.
Extra Support Activities
  • The aim of this session is to give young people an insight into school life and dispel perceived myths that the group may have.
  • The addition of these activities may depend on the relationship and availability of the school, or the number of schools in the town.
  • This can be done through a tour of the secondary school where young people become familiar with their new surroundings. It can also be done as a Q&A session with previous first year students, to answer all aspects of school life from educational to social.
  • This activity allows for previous Stepping Stones participants to give back to the programme.
Short – Medium Term Outcomes
  • Young People are more aware if the in-school support systems available to them.
  • The are given the opportunity to develop their organisational skills e.g. homework schedules, time table, etc.
  • They are encouraged to develop a more positive attitude towards secondary school
  • They become aware of the importance of life choices and personal responsibility.
Activities Sessions
  • In addition to specific themes and workshops there can also be recreational activities during the day that are both fun and challenging and assist towards building relationship, improving confidence and having fun.
  • These activities provide the opportunity to develop positive relationships with both peers and leaders and allow the group to get to know each other and develop a group mentality.
  • As the young people attempt various fun and educational activities they are learning new skills and trying different things which leads to increased self-esteem. It also allows the young people to unwind and have some fun between their workshops.
Some suggested activities:
    • Team Challenges
    • Bowling
    • Cooking
    • Arts and Craft
    • Drama
    • Treasure Hunts
    • Computers – (e.g. Comic Life - the group design a comic strip on their summer camp)
    • Sports
    • Skills Based-(e.g. Drumming)
  • Towards the end of the programme we would recommend there is a day trip outside the project. This trip celebrates their achievements of the week and it gives them something to work towards during the programme as well as being a fun day out.
  • At the end of the programme we would also recommend a mini celebration with a presentation of Stepping Stones Certificates of Completion, a photo slide-show and an evaluation of the programme with the group

Ideal Friend (4)


1. To help participants to identify the qualities of a good friend

2. To help participants to identify their own positive qualities

Length of exercise: 40 to 60 minutes

Materials needed:

Ø Wall paper – large sheets of paper

Ø Markers or Paints

Ø Worksheet - Good Things about me


1. Begin the exercise by first dividing the group into smaller groups of 3 – 4

Young People.(5 mins)

2. Allow the group to work for 5 minutes brainstorming on “what’s a friend” ,

chart the information and feedback back to the larger group. (5 mins)

3. Groups are then asked to draw an outline of a people and create an

“ideal friend” by naming and painting traits and characteristics on the

sheets. (15 mins)

4. A word pool with suggestions from the good things about me sheets 4. A word pool with suggestions from the good things about me sheets

should be used to give the group suggestions. (10 mins

5. The groups then present and feedback their “ideal friend” to the whole

group. (10 mins)

6. A group discussion of the “ideal friend” takes place where participants

are given back the “good things about me” sheets and asked to check

where they have good things in common with the ideal friends. (10 mins)

Facilitator notes:

As part of the group discussion of the “ideal friend”, facilitators should draw

out the points the Young People made on the qualities of an “ideal friend”

and the qualities the Young People themselves possess