Transition Planning

After three years together, many of my fantastic students are transitioning to high school this year. When I think about them moving on, I am incredibly emotional as they have grown so much over the past three years and I am really going to miss them! But before I can sit down and have a good cry about their departure, I must complete something called a transition plan for all my students.

With the introduction of PPM 156 in 2014, a transition plan is now required for all students who have an IEP, whether or not they have been identified. Transition plans are often embedded within the IEP and are reviewed as part of the IEP review process. Transition plans can be made for in class, grade to grade or school to school transitions. In some circumstances, the board may decide to create a transition plan for a student without an IEP but who is receiving Special Education supports. In addition, PPM 140 outlines the mandatory use of ABA methods to support students with Autism Spectrum Disorder in all aspects of school including transitions.

PPM 156 outlines what must be included in Transition Plans. They must include: goals, support needs, the actions required to achieve the goals, roles and responsibilities, and timelines. The aim is to have students develop independence skills so that they can be successful in moving through their school career in Ontario. Below are some examples of transition goals I have used for students in the past.


Goal: Student will independently transition between activities within the school day.

The actions required to achieve the goals: Student will use anxiety reducing choice board when feeling overwhelmed during transitions.

Roles and Responsibilities: Teacher and Educational Assistants will develop choice board in consultation with the student. Teacher and Educational Assistants will support student in identifying times in the day when the choice board will be beneficial.

Timelines: Choice board created in September. Used as needed throughout the school year.

Goal: Student will transition to a new school

The action required to achieve the goal: Student will receive a social story about their new school.

Roles and Responsibilities: Teacher and Educational Assistants will review the social story in class with the student. Parents will review the social story over the summer prior to the transition to a new school.

Timelines: Prior to the transition.

According to PPM 156, transition meetings are not a mandatory part of the process of transitioning between schools. However, if you are able to arrange to meet with teachers who have taught your students at another school or who will be teaching them in the future, it is very beneficial. In the past two years, I have presented my students to high schools and I have attended many presentations for my incoming students. These presentations are very beneficial because they allow time for questions and discussion about how to best support the student’s needs.  If you have never presented a student at a transition meeting before, here is some information that I highlight:

  • Background information: name, date of birth, IPRC identification, language(s) spoken at home
  • Supports: Information about any support being provided in or out of school such as Speech and Language Support, Occupational Therapy, Behaviour Therapy etc..
  • Student’s Strengths and Needs
  • Medical Information: medication that the student takes, allergies, special equipment that they use.
  • Communication: verbal, assistive device, augmentative communication etc.. Also, what kind of supports they have to support their understanding in the classroom such as visual schedules, social stories, choice boards, independent work system bins.
  • Interests, Motivators, Reinforcements, Dislikes
  • Literacy and Numeracy Skills: letter, word and number recognition, ability to write and recognize personal information such as phone number and address.
  • Assistive Technology: Boardmaker, Clicker 5 or 6, iPad, touch screen, wireless mouse, SMARTBoard.
  • Mobility: outline support needed for student to move around the classroom and school such as adult assistance or a walker.
  • Behaviour: Outline any physical aggression or challenges with self-regulation.
  • Personal Care: level of independence with eating, dressing and toileting.
  • Transportation: requirement of a travel assistant or harness to successfully ride a bus to school.

Additional Resources:

Niagara Catholic District School Board created a great resource to support with transition planning. There are many great examples of transition plans in this resource and is a great tool to use if you have never written a transition plan before.

A group of school boards collaborated on a one page support guide for educators about writing transition plans.

The Ministry of Education has created a resource that is an overview of Special Education in Ontario.

Setting up Successful Transition Meetings

I am really excited to be starting a brand-new job in September! I am leaving the world of music behind and entering the amazing world of Special Education. This has been a long time passion of mine and when the wonderful opportunity came up to open a class for students with a Developmental Disability, I jumped at the opportunity.

In preparation for my new role, I have had the pleasure of sitting through transition meetings for all of my new students which have been immensely beneficial. This was my first time sitting in on transition meetings and I am so pumped for the new school year now that I have heard all the amazing things about my wonderful new students.

Listening through the presentations, as the sending schools were sharing information with us, the ultimate goal was to make all our families feel comfortable about this big transition their child was facing.  Below are a few ways that we tried very hard to make all our families feel welcome!

  1. All families were invited to the transition and welcomed into the meeting with smiles. Food was ready and water was available in the 30+ degree heat for all families.
  2. At the beginning of every meeting, parents were told explicitly that the goal of the meeting was for them to leave smiling. This reassured them that they were an important part of this process and that their voice was valued. Some parents took this opportunity to share their thoughts about the child’s needs and their anxieties about the transition. It was a great opportunity to begin to build trust between the new school and the parents.
  3. We had a flyer ready for every meeting inviting all of our parents to an “Ice Cream Party” in late August right before school begins. All families and students were really excited about the ice cream party idea and it was such a positive way to end every meeting. Everyone knew that they were invited to see the school, see the classroom and meet their whole teaching team.
  4. One of the most exciting aspects of our transition meetings for students and families was receiving some swag from the new school. A brand new Mustangs t-shirt and water bottle were a big hit with all of the families and made them feel welcome as a member of their new community. There were lots of smiles and excitement at the thought of their child wearing them.

The transition meetings were also an important forum for sharing information. If you are doing the transition meeting for the first time this year or next year, after listening to some very talented teachers present their students, this is what I saw this week that was very helpful.

  1. Bring pictures of the child and important items in the room. One of the teachers gave me a copy of a poem that really helps alleviate anxiety about making mistakes that she uses with one of my students. I will use this familiar item to help my student transition from one school to the next as it will be so familiar to her. Also, the pictures of my students doing his or her favourite things also started to give me an idea of my student’s interests and likes. It was great to put a picture to a name from the beginning. Families smiled when they saw their child doing all these wonderful things and it set a really positive tone for the meeting.
  2. Be specific and detailed about needs in the area of toileting and eating. Some forms do not have a specific section for both of these items so it is important that you are clear and detailed. It is important for the incoming school to fully know the routine so that we can replicate it on the first day of school.
  3. Be detailed about strategies that work to aid in positive behaviour. It might feel a little bit obvious but it is important information to share.
  4. Be sure to bring a copy of the IEP, transition form and behaviour plans. All of this information is highly beneficial in purchasing items needed and preparing a beneficial program for students.


Hope these ideas help you set up amazing transition meetings at your schools!