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Helping your child transition to secondary school

By Atom | Jun 20, 2023, 4:04 PM

Group of children wearing PE uniform, with arms around each others' shoulders, laughing and smiling

The transition to secondary school is a big step for young people and their parents. The final year of primary school is an ideal time to help your child prepare for this big life change, both academically and emotionally. Keep reading for our top tips to set them up to thrive in Year 7 and beyond!

What is meant by transition in education?

After moving from primary school to secondary school, students will encounter familiar subjects in new ways and in more depth. They’ll be expected to become more responsible for their own learning and take on greater independence, such as:

  • Travelling to school by themselves

  • Understanding a lesson timetable and navigating to the right room (often in a much larger building than they’re used to)

  • Using a homework planner and completing homework on time

  • Remembering to take specific books and equipment to classes

These new experiences will stretch and challenge their organisation, planning and communication skills. Explore what your child will be learning in Years 7–9 here.

Why is transition important in school?

Moving from Year 6 to Year 7 is an exciting opportunity to develop social and academic confidence and build resilience. And adjusting to secondary school sets the stage for future transitions to further and higher education and employment. According to the Nuffield Foundation, it’s ‘an important life transition that can affect children’s attainment and wellbeing in the longer term.’

But the differences between primary and secondary school life can feel overwhelming. The many unknowns, the influx of new faces, new teachers, academic pressures, trying to fit in and make new friends, and going from being the oldest in the school to the youngest again – all of it can be stressful for even the most outgoing young people.

Change can impact everyone’s mental health. You can find resources to support your child’s mental wellbeing during the transition to secondary school at at

What makes a good transition from primary to secondary school?

Starting preparation early, while your child is still in primary school, can help them ease into this next stage of their life. If possible, don't wait until the summer holidays – treat secondary school preparation as a marathon instead of a sprint.

We recommend slowly introducing the activities below during their last primary school years. This can help your child build the skills they will need, reduce the chances of anxiety, and frame their upcoming transition as a positive experience.

1. Becoming responsible for their school items

Throughout Year 6, give your child increasing responsibility for their belongings. Encourage them to pack their own PE kit, remember their own homework, and put their school uniform away. You could create a checklist together that they can work through before bed to prepare for the next day.

2. Speaking to new faces

Starting secondary school comes with the challenge of building completely new relationships with peers and teachers. This can be daunting, but there are small everyday ways to help your child get more comfortable with talking to new people. Perhaps they can practise by saying ‘good evening’ and ‘thank you’ to their sports coach, or paying for purchases and asking questions when you go shopping together.

3. Recognising their strengths and areas for development

Read through your child’s school report together, allowing time to praise the positive feedback and talk through the constructive. Ask your child to highlight topics they’d like to improve on. What steps would they like to take?

Starting this early in Year 6 allows plenty of time to work on the areas they find more challenging so that they start Year 7 with a strong foundation. Parents’ evening in the autumn term of Year 6 will give you valuable information. A good tutor is another fantastic resource for identifying and targeting knowledge gaps.

4. Strengthening their time management skills

Lesson timetables, assembly timetables, homework timetables, revision timetables – they’re all about to become a big feature of your child’s secondary education.

A shared family calendar stuck to the fridge can help your child get familiar with using schedules in their home life first, before moving on to create a personalised study timetable together. If your child has a tutor, they can work together to develop their skills in time management, setting priorities and revising independently.

5. Exploring new connections together

Watching open day videos and attending induction visits can help them feel connected to their new school. If they’ll be taking public transport to their new school, travel the route together several times to help them get comfortable with timings and connections. Many secondary schools have a WhatsApp group or forum for parents of new pupils, and this is a great way for both of you to meet other families (and arrange car shares!).

6. Ensuring continuity of learning

Continuity of learning is vital for a successful academic transition. Primary and secondary teachers plan carefully to avoid gaps in the curriculum and unnecessary repetition when transitioning to secondary school. But many children struggle with variations in teaching practice and different curriculum models, which can cause a dip in attainment in Year 7 pupils.

Tuition can supplement your child’s learning to provide greater continuity while transitioning to secondary school. A good tutor will identify your child’s learning style and personalise their approach to ensure they keep progressing and avoid the dreaded ‘Year 7 dip’.

Tailored tuition to support the move to secondary school

One-to-one tuition can empower your child with knowledge, skills and confidence for a smooth transition from primary to secondary school. Atom Tuition offers a hassle-free service to match you with the perfect tutor to help your child achieve their full potential.

Target your choice of national curriculum core subjects (English, maths and science), secondary school entrance exam preparation (verbal and non-verbal reasoning), and study skills that will benefit your child for years to come. You’ll get:

  • A carefully-selected tutor who has undergone enhanced DBS checks and has a proven track record for success.

  • A uniquely personalised approach, combining teaching expertise with data-driven insights and tailored to your child’s learning goals.

  • Weekly reporting and termly assessments, with 24/7 access to your child’s progress data.

  • Discounted access to award-winning online platform Atom Home for continuous learning between sessions.

Find out more about Atom Tuition

Ready to book a trial lesson? Fill out this simple form and one of our tuition advisors will get back in touch soon.

Parent WhatsApp groups

If your child is currently in Year 6, why not join our Year 6 WhatsApp group? You'll get access to free resources to help your child continue to excel throughout Year 6, plus Education Expert advice on preparing for SATs and the transition to secondary school.

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