The Primary to Secondary School Transition

by | Jun 20, 2022

The transition from primary school to secondary school for children can be one of their most exciting times, but also can be quite daunting too.  The best way to ensure your child has the best experience during this time is to work together with both primary and secondary schools, organizing a thorough plan of action.  The most successful transitions occur when the secondary school has a formal program in place and communicates effectively with both parents and primary school.

With good planning, and with you as a parent knowing what is going on, this will instill confidence in your child to transition effortlessly with minimum anxiety.

What can I do to help them prepare?

  • Make a list of key dates, including holiday and test/ exam dates.
  • List school rules, including the expected code of dress. This should consist not only of clothing but also wearing of jewellery, length and style of haircuts.
  • Tests and homework policy. You need to know when tests are, and how your child will be assessed; when they get homework, how often and how long are they expected to spend doing it.
  • What methods of communication are available for you to contact the school i.e. child’s planner; text; email or phone.
  • Who is the first point of contact for your child and yourself if you have a concern?
  • Who is the next point of contact is for a more serious event?
  • How do they pay for their school lunch? What is allowed in their packed lunch?
  • If your child does not attend a primary school that is involved in a formal transition program, ask both primary and secondary schools if they can work together to organize several visits to the secondary school before the end of the summer term. These should include general orientation through to taster sessions in classes with teachers.
  • During the summer break set aside a quiet time to talk to your child.  Go through your expectations, the school’s expectations and then listen to any questions or fears your child might have.  Note any questions you still cannot answer yourself and contact the school to clarify them. 
  • Practice physically going to secondary school towards the end of the Summer holidays

Their first day at secondary school

  • Have a list of everything they will need, and write this down for your child to keep in their room. E.g. bag, pen, pencil, ruler, calculator and uniform
  • Try and do everything exactly as planned with no last-minute surprises
  • Arrive at school a few minutes early so your child can settle in and make some new friends

Are they worried about bullying in big school?

  • The best way to avoid your child being bullied is to teach them how to deal with it and give them confidence that it will be dealt with.
  • Tell your child if someone does something or says something they don’t like, to reply in a strong voice “I don’t like it when…………………….and I want you to stop now” and then walk away. If the person doing the unpleasant action continues or follows them, then tell your child to inform them they are going to find an adult and tell them about it.
  • If it continues you may encourage the child to report it in school to a teacher or member of support staff they trust or you may report it yourself.
  • If reporting as above doesn’t work then be prepared to make contact with the school yourself to explain the issue and discuss how it is going to be resolved?

We have some useful information on our Parent Resources page regarding the primary to secondary school transition.

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