Primary to Secondary Transition: What Do You Need to Know?


  1. Understand what a successful transition looks like
  2. Visit the school and prepare to make friends 
  3. Encourage independence and prepare your child


The primary to secondary school transition can feel daunting for most children, and is often the biggest change in their lives so far. Let us help guide you through some aspects of this process.



👉🏼 Understand what a successful transition looks like


After as many as seven years at primary school, the time will come for children to transition to another seven years of secondary education. Students are not only leaving behind their school community, some of their friends and formative teachers 😥, they are also entering puberty and starting all over again in a bigger, and scarier environment. Plus, there are all the new restrictions to take into account.


As a parent it’s important to understand that bumps and worries are completely normal, but shouldn’t be overwhelming your child and keeping them up at night.


So what does a successful transition look like? Here’s what to look out for:


👌🏻 Your child will be able to develop new friendships, and will become more independent and confident.

👌🏻 They settle into school life, and show an increased interest in school activities. 

👌🏻 They show a continued interest in some or most aspects of school life, and become more organised independently. 


It’s important to remember that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all response to starting secondary school; this varies from child to child, especially those who are neurodiverse


Knowing exactly what your child needs and knowing how they respond to change is your superpower. Do they need a little extra sleep? Snacks throughout the day? To be asked lots of questions, or to be left alone? 


Remember that you and home are their constant as everything around them becomes something new. 🙂 If their new school offers an induction or taster day, make sure they attend!


Children are also not expected to settle in straightaway. We know that this can take months and sometimes their entire first year, so patience and trial and error are very important 👩🏻‍🏫


👉🏼 Visit the school and prepare to make friends


Just like starting primary school, starting secondary school involves a similar amount of preparation. Remember to visit the school and get as familiar with it and the local area as you can. Even seeing older students in their uniform walking to school can aid your child and help them to identify their soon-to-be new routine. 


BBC Bitesize has plenty of student-friendly resources that you can look at together in the months leading up to starting school to prepare them and beat the anxiety. As well as following checklists, remember to read interviews and stories to understand some experiences first hand. 


Talk to friends and family with older children who can provide further insight into what it was like for them (hearing from someone of school-age, rather than just adults can really help). 


Fight the bigger worries by taking time to prepare the smaller stuff. This time should also be fun and exciting! Each child’s distraction will be different. Will they enjoy getting ready by buying stationary and preparing their school bag? By spending summer outside and getting better at sports? Or by learning a new skill or completing a reading challenge? Use the long summer break to rest and recuperate. This will help children prepare for the upcoming change. 🏄🏻


👉🏼 Encourage independence and prepare your child


Secondary schools deliberately promote independence by having higher expectations as children get older. No multiple reminders or being let off for forgetting! You can prepare your child by starting to have higher expectations as well. 


Teaching your child to be punctual, accept responsibility, eating and sleeping well and completing tasks on time will help them in their new, more rigorous environment. Even getting used to a routine or sleep pattern a week or so ahead of September means they’ll have lots of energy right at the start. You can also:


👆🏼 Remind them to check their timetable every day, and pack their bag the night before for what they need the next day.

🎒 Support and check their homework with them and positively praise them when things are going well.

👯 Promote friendship-forming by encouraging them to do extra-curricular activities, and allowing them to meet up with friends outside of school. 


Once they’ve started in September, continue to show interest so they look back on this time positively. 😀 Instead of asking them about their day, ask them three things they learnt at the end of the week, or one thing they struggled with and how they overcame it. Notice when something improves (this could be academic, like knowledge or handwriting, but also personal like talking about a new friend). 


For any bigger concerns or worries that you recognise as a parent, remember to contact the school or a GP. 


We know that the academic challenges of secondary school can also a source of worry. Book a free tutoring session with GoStudent today and support your child's academic transition with the help of our excellent tutors. 

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