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Helping pupils make the great leap to secondary school

Helping pupils make the great leap to secondary school

When I made the transition from primary to secondary school, it felt like entering another world. I was leaving behind the security of knowing the school building, an understanding of the rules and expectations, and the friendship group I had developed over several years. I knew the teacher and she understood me, including my strengths and weaknesses as a learner.

When I started secondary school, I felt as if I was pressing the reset button. You may not know where to sit when you enter classes, you are dealing with new subjects you know little or nothing about, you are carrying around large number of books (often unnecessarily because you haven’t quite worked out the timetable yet), and your new busy and loud environment can feel intimidating.

Making the transition is a momentous time in pupils’ lives and it can leave children feeling vulnerable and afraid. For many learners a less successful transition can lead to a dip in performance at school, and poor attendance and engagement. A recent article in The Telegraph gives advice on promoting a good transition. It urges parents to:

  • Build confidence in your child before the term starts
  • Establish routines: a week or so before your child starts at secondary school, ensure they get up around the time they’ll need to for school so that it’s not a huge shock
  • Help your child be sociable: your child may be shy about asking a new friend around for tea so instead suggest it to the child’s parent
  • Encourage good time management: help your child to structure their evening with an established routine – homework, meal, relaxing, sleep
  • Communicate with the school: teachers would rather know about any concerns regarding your child sooner rather than later

To help young people make a successful transition, ASDAN is working on an ambitious 18-month project with funding of £147,000 from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. The scheme, Building for Progression: a foot on the ladder, is being piloted in three primary schools and a secondary school in Rugby. The hypothesis being tested is that learners who develop their soft skills and self-worth will make a better transition. The scheme has been popular with teachers with one describing it as ‘exciting’ and ‘making a real difference to children’s lives’.

Events on 4 July in Rugby and 15 November in London have been scheduled to share the findings of the pilot. To find out more and to book your place at the events, please email

Author: Barry McCarthy, ASDAN Communications and Marketing Manager


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