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Transition to secondary school

There are lots of things that schools can do to help children and young people prepare for, and cope with, change, build resilience, self-confidence and self-esteem.

The following are a few of the things parents and teachers can do:

  • Check in with the child or young person to find out how well they are coping academically as well as with their well-being.
  • Keep an eye on how they are socialising. See if they are making friends and developing relationships in positive peer groups.
  • Help the child or young person to be cyber-savvy and understand how to be safe online.
  • Provide opportunities for parents and teachers to communicate.

Create social events:  These can be created between settings and can include:

  • Talks
  • Taster days
  • Question and answer sessions with the child, young person and parent or carers
  • Develop a peer support or buddy system

Transition sessions:  Deliver transition sessions during the summer term to prepare the child or young person. Extra transition sessions and activities may be needed for children who find change more difficult.

Share information with school receiving child or young person 

This could involve:

  • Formal meetings
  • Review and handover meetings
  • Transitional joint working between primary and secondary special educational needs staff
  • Put a plan in place to address barriers before the transition starts e.g. equipment, resources, support.
  • Identifying a key worker in the secondary school or new school who will work closely with the child or young person.

Useful websites:

The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) Blog: Getting transition right (part 1 of 2) – four practical, evidence-based strategies to support pupils moving from Year 6 to Year 7 focuses on transition from Primary to Secondary School.

The EEF Blog: Getting transition right (part 2 of 2) – ‘how my school is applying evidence to promote positive learning behaviours’. This blog explores how the evidence-based recommendations from five EEF guidance reports can be applied by schools to support transition following Covid-19 closures.

A project team consisting of the Foundation, University of Northampton and University of Cambridge, met with pupils, school staff and parents in three Peterborough schools. The aim was to find out about their experiences of the transition to secondary school.  Resources were then produced to support schools to plan successful transitions.  Around 20 young people, with Special Educational Needs (SEN) who had recently moved from primary to secondary school, were asked what worked and didn’t work well when they moved school. Three guides were then developed – guides for pupils, parents and teachers. View guides on the Learning Disabilities website.

The Mentally Healthy Schools website has a lot of useful information, which includes:

  • The ‘Transition to secondary school lesson plan pack‘ helps young people identify strategies to deal with change so they can have a successful transition to secondary school. It has been developed by teachers and includes a lesson plan, PowerPoint and accompanying video.

Last updated 24 September 2020

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