Preparing Children for Secondary School
Transitioning from primary to secondary school is a landmark step in a child’s journey towards maturity and independence.
In addition, moving from a smaller school, where everyone knows each other, to a larger environment in which children are taught by several different teachers and in several different rooms can also bring its challenges.
At Meadow, we believe that it is important to prepare children carefully for these changes, in order that they have the best chance of making a smooth and confident transition, by focusing both on the skills sets required and the opportunities that such a change presents. We start preparing the children in Year 5 - the children are encouraged to become much more self-reliant in their learning, to think about how to organise their learning and manage their time, how to research, how to evaluate their work and to identify the next steps in their learning journey. This helps them to prepare for the greater demands for independent learning and juggling their time that secondary school makes.
In addition, children in years 5 and 6 take on a variety of school monitor roles, helping with a range of tasks around the school, including Team Leaders, Head Boy and Girls, Play Leaders and a whole host of other responsibilities. As well as making a valuable contribution to school life, these roles help the children to develop commitment, organisational skills and a sense of personal responsibility that will stand them in good stead for secondary school.
Spending time at secondary school ahead of transition
Experience of the secondary school environment is also very helpful. At various points throughout Years 5 and 6, children gain experience of local secondary schools as we participate in activities such as the Science and Technology event at Blenheim High School – enabling pupils to become more familiar with the physical surroundings, as well as meeting pupils and children from other feeder schools.
Transition information for parents
It is acknowledged that transition from primary school to secondary school may be just as big an event for parents as it is for children. Therefore, we invite parents to contact us for any information that they need.
PHSE work in school to support children through the transition process
Any period of transition can be emotionally unsettling and confusing, and transition from primary school to secondary is no different. On the one hand, and oscillating back and forth from moment to moment, children may feel that they are looking forward to new opportunities, or on the other may feel insecure at leaving a familiar environment; they may be looking forward to meeting new friends, or worried that they may lose touch with current ones. We explicitly recognise this and, in the summer term in particular, timetable regular PHSE sessions to voice and constructively address their mixed feelings. For example, we reflect on past experiences and look forward both to opportunities and challenges; we explore ways to make new friends and who they can speak to at their new school if they are worried about anything once they start.
What parents can do to help their children prepare
Secondary school undoubtedly places extra demands on children in terms of personal organisation, time management and a more complex journey to school. Experience shows that children who are well-prepared for these transitions more successfully. Parents can play a key role in helping children to gain confidence in taking on these challenges in a progressive way. For example, throughout Year 6, children should be encouraged to take responsibility for organising their own school bags, PE kits and musical instruments. In addition, they could be encouraged to identify a regular time for completing home learning each week.
Closer to the time of transition, parents could explore bus timetables with their child and could try a dummy school run – perhaps allowing the child to board the bus independently and arranging to meet them at the other end.