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Top tips for starting secondary school

The start of the new school term will be meaning a series of new challenges for families with a young person transitioning from primary to high school. At Inkpots, we said goodbye to a large number of Year 6s at the end of the summer term; they all seemed more than ready to move on from their primary schools, but many were a bit daunted at the thought of secondary school, especially if they were the first one in the family to be going there.

At the end of the school year, we completed the first year of running a lunch time group at our local secondary school, The Burgess Hill Academy. During the first couple of terms, the Year 7 students in our group were really finding their feet, and we started to review what they had learned and how they had overcome various obstacles. The notes developed into a leaflet, and with the support of the forward-thinking Principal, Mr Francies, this has been sent out to all the new Year 7s joining the Academy this September. Nothing quite beats peer support, and our students have put together some practical tips to help others.

We also felt that some of the information could be applied to students from other schools too, so we have adapted the leaflet and it can be downloaded HERE for free.

One of the issues that came through over and again when talking to our group is that organisation matters. Having multiple copies of the timetable, organising your bag, knowing when homework should be in were all points which came up regularly.

For many parents, this move means some adjustments too – not least, a new daily routine which may well mean a child getting themselves to and from school on their own for the first time. One of the hardest things to do is to foster independence around the home too – it’s so much easier to do things yourself. But in the last few weeks of the summer, it might be an idea to start encouraging some more help around the house, maybe getting children to strip their own beds, unload the dishwasher or preparing a meal. Making decisions for themselves is all part of supporting children through the transition phase. It may be painful, but the result will be worth it!

Another area of anxiety may be around being separated from friends with whom your child has been close throughout primary school. At the end of Year 6, many strong bonds have been formed and it may seem hard to imagine life without a certain friend. It’s important to acknowledge these feelings – even if you know that your child will make new friends. Make sure there’s time in the diary for catch ups with old friends during the weekends and holidays.

A final thing to remember is that all change takes time to bed in and it’s fine for everyone to take a few weeks to settle. It’s important that the young person has ownership of all this though, and parents can be totally supportive, while at the same time not doing everything for them.

Good luck!




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