Easing the Transition from Primary to Secondary School

by ParentalChoice
in schools, Parenting, Children
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With thanks to Rachel Vecht, director and founder of Educating Matters.

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“As an experienced primary school teacher, mother to four children and having spent the last 13 years running ‘Educating Matters’ seminars in companies for working parents on how to support their children’s education, I feel I am well placed to advise parents on how to ease the transition from primary to secondary school. 

For most parents, selecting a secondary school for their child can be a daunting and confusing procedure.  Once your child has finally secured a place at a secondary school there is still further worry and work on the part of parents to help their children settle in.

Moving up to year 7 is a big step and means a number of major changes for all children.  These include changes to daily routine and movement between classes, subject specific teachers, independent travel to school, more homework and greater expectations, a need for greater organisational skills, meeting new children and learning new rules.  In addition 11-12 year olds are having to cope with huge changes physically and emotionally.

A series of studies over the past 20 years shows pupils regressing (particularly academically) between the last year of primary and the end of the first year of secondary school. Primary-secondary transition is now regarded as the crucial time, when learners drop out or are made for life.

The first few weeks are crucial in developing new peer groups and good preparation is key. 

The engagement of parents in their children’s transition is crucial and here are some suggestions of what can be done:


  • Make sure your child has an opportunity to visit their new school
  • Look at school website/prospectus with your child
  • Speak to children already at the school
  • Get a map of the school
  • Be familiar with the route to school and try it out before



  • Over the summer holidays encourage your child to get to know local children who will be starting at the school
  • Discuss how they can approach children they don’t know, use role play
  • Encourage children to try new things, join clubs, teams and make the most of extra -curricular activities


Home routine

  • Life at home needs to be steady and reliable
  • Establish good routines – eat well and get to bed at a reasonable hour
  • Shared meal times so interact as a family
  • Limit outside activities
  • Need time to relax



  • Make a visual planner/ daily checklist – mark in upcoming events
  • Ensure child has the correct stationary and equipment
  • Pack bags the night before with homework, sports kit, snack etc
  • Encourage child to be more independent at home
  • Help your child to write a homework timetable set up a structure and sense of organisation.



  • Listen and talk to your child about what they are thinking and feeling
  • Identify any concerns and encourage them to ask for advice
  • Make sure they know who to speak to at school for help
  • Take a daily interest – ask about homework, what they are learning
  • Share experiences about when you were growing up and normailse feelings of anxiety and uncertainty
  • Be alert for signs of difficulty and communicate with the school


Boost confidence and self-esteem

  • Be positive and praise your child as much as possible for any small achievements (not just academic but effort, attitude etc)
  • With self- confidence they are less likely to be bullied, become more resilient and have the confidence to say no under peer pressure.”


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