Even if students are moving from primary to secondary in the same school, there will always be differences and this can lead to students feeling nervous. One of the big challenges students face is the change from being in a ’fixed’ class with a tight knit group of friends, to suddenly being in a range of classes with other students and teachers they do not know. This year this challenge will be especially relevant, as students have spent the last year in their class bubbles, with limited interaction with other students in their schools.
It is key to reassure students that all students will be in the same boat, whether they are new to a school, or have been there since FS1. Not being in the same class as their best friend from the previous few years is not a problem!
Instead, the movement to secondary is an opportunity to grow those social circles and be excited to make new friends. This may seem daunting, but talk to your child about the opportunities and encourage your child to:
It is also key to reassure students that the best friendships take time to develop, and it is not a competition to be popular on day one!
Due to the last 18 months, lots of schools have reviewed their Use of Technology policies, and many schools now operate a ‘bring your own device’ policy. Students having their own devices provides an opportunity for seamless learning from school to home, and does show a shift in how teaching and learning is innovating in the 21st century. There is no doubting the huge potential that technology can have is supporting student learning, but this needs to go hand in hand with recognising the potential pitfalls and challenges as well. My advice is for parents to:
In recent months, school life has increasingly been getting back to ‘normal’ with increased opportunities for students to take part in sports and extra-curricular activities. There is no doubt that the year ahead will be quite ‘fluid’ in how schools operate and when new activities can be introduced. Schools have had to adapt their communication style – with onsite parent meetings still restricted – and most have invested in using technology in relation to parents’ evenings, showcasing events and other areas of their communication. Ensure you are as up to date as possible, by updating your email addresses and phone numbers, so you are fully aware of the opportunities your child has at school
It may be worth checking your junk mail, to ensure the filters are set correctly, so you can put the schools email address on your ‘safe list’.
Moving from primary to secondary does mean a significant increase in the number of teachers your child will interact with. In the past you had one main point of contact, and probably saw your child’s class teacher most mornings at drop off or pick up. In most cases, your main point of contact will be the form tutor or head of year, and this relationship between the school and parents is just as important as when at primary school.
Drop an email to the tutor, introduce yourself, and keep those lines of communication open. When you are talking to your child, ask them how things are going, and if you have any concerns – let the school know. We all prefer to deal with the ‘small’ things, and in most cases, these can be sorted quickly, without them having to grow into more challenging problems.
One of the main ways to reduce anxiety on returning to school is for students to feel as fully prepared as they can be. The below is a list of some top tips for starting the year:
With thanks to Brian Horwell, Head of Secondary at Safa British School.