The transition from primary to secondary school: Our top tips for schools
Lockdown has been tough on us all, but none more so than for children. For some, September brings the all-important transition from year six to year seven, a scary step at the best of times. Following months of closures, for many students, the approaching new school year presents a great many stresses and strains. But, with the right advice and support, schools can help students to look forward to September, rather than fear it.
Here are our top tips for helping students to face the next stage of their education with confidence.
Welcome the transition with positivity
Moving schools pulls children away from a familiar environment, one in which they have grown to know well and understand. Suddenly, they are faced with different classrooms, teachers and rules – no matter what age, it’s an intimidating prospect.
Some children will embrace the change and others will take a little while to adapt. However, it’s all about attitude. Encourage students to think positively about all the exciting things to come; new friends, interesting subjects - a positive attitude will see children look forward to, rather than fear, their new school.
Don’t underestimate the impact of the transition
It isn’t always easy to identify when a student is feeling anxious. Some children may purposely dodge expressing their emotions to avoid attention; some may internalise stress to avoid dealing with their feelings or for fear of being made fun of by their peers.
For this reason, it’s important to encourage all students to talk about the upcoming transition to secondary school. While some quieter students may evade taking part in conversations, it’s still beneficial for them to hear others addressing the same concerns they share. And, chances are, teachers will be able to identify those who are likely to be feeling anxious about change; in these instances, talking with the child alone, 1-2-1, may help them to open up and share.
Engage with parents
Remember, it’s not only children facing a big change in the near future; parents, too, will be experiencing their own concerns about the transition to secondary school. Engaging with families will enable them to help children at home, so informative, reassuring and regular communications are important; it’s all about providing the tools and information parents need now to support children in the future.
For hard-to-reach parents, the final weeks of term are very important for making contact, if only to reassure them your staff team are on hand to offer some guidance and support in advance of summer.
Make a point of it
If you can’t celebrate your students’ successes at the end of primary school, when can you? It’s a big step and one which they'll remember for the rest of their lives – and so will parents. While closures make it difficult to celebrate in the usual ways, with parties, trips and ceremonies, this is still a vital moment in their education and should be marked as such.
If social-distancing on site is a struggle, or not all students are attending before summer, there are still ways to celebrate. Video calls have proven vital in facilitating home-learning; fun videos, social media or a simple phone call to say ‘good bye’ serve to reassure students and give them the recognition they deserve before moving on to all important year seven. It’s time to get creative!
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