With excitement and a little trepidation your child will move on to secondary school in September! As a Headteacher watching parents dropping off their child I would observe the parents initially displaying more nerves than their son or daughter. If your child has had the opportunity to visit the school before starting or taken part in a Summer Transition Programme then he/ she should settle down quite quickly and that will alleviate your worries. This may also be a good time to ask the school for a reading list of recommended books so that your child can read one or two during the holidays. It may also be a good idea for your child to get up early a couple of days prior to starting school in September so that some sort of routine is established early on.
As part of the transition you will have the opportunity to meet your child’s Tutor and Head of Year which is important as you will then have two points of contact should you wish to talk to the school about a problem with your child. As there will be many new experiences for your child, he/she may feel a little bit anxious over new routines, homework and friendship groups but after a few weeks everything should settle into a routine. However, if you are concerned about any aspect of your child’s schooling then do not hesitate to contact the Tutor or Head of Year. A number of schools run a settling in evening before the October half term where you can meet your child’s Tutor. This would be a good time to raise any concerns (only if the concerns can wait that long) as well as finding out how your child is enjoying school and faring in lessons.
Homework is an important aspect of your child’s education as it will support the learning that takes place in the classroom. Your child will have a homework timetable and a guide as to how long to spend on homework. Make sure the environment at home allows for quiet work to give your child the best opportunity to succeed. Your encouragement and interest in their work will be welcomed. I tried as much as possible to take my children on family trips to places of interest to support topics my children were studying which was fun for us all. If your child is struggling with the work set or you feel he/she needs more challenging work talk to the school.
The GCSE specifications have been rewritten and the new exams include far more extended writing. The primary schools will have begun the process of deepening your child’s understanding across a wide range of subjects and this will continue at secondary school. It is therefore important your child is used to writing answers at length from Year 7 onwards so that he/she is gradually prepared for the exams in Year 11 eg one of the GCSE English Literature papers is now 2hours 15 minutes long and extended writing is essential.
Secondary school is filled with opportunities that are there for the taking. It is important for you as a parent to remain calm and support your child in building the resilience he/she will require to achieve his/her very best in years to come.
Lindsey Abbott, Education Consultant
Lindsey Abbott has worked in Education for 37 years, the last 8 of which she was Headteacher of a Secondary School. Lindsey is now a consultant Headteacher supporting senior leaders in schools and talks to parents on a range of subjects relating to education to help parents understand more about the system and how best to help their children.
Lindsey is one of Parental Choice’s expert speakers for presentations on secondary schools. If you are interested in knowing more about Lindsey’s presentations or others available please contact Stephanie Rough mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org