The transition from primary to secondary school is no mean feat. If your child is starting Year 7 in September, they may be feeling sad about leaving their current school and their primary school friends. It's also completely normal for children to feel worried about starting 'big school' and moving to a new school environment.
Secondary schools appreciate that this is a significant change for children (and their parents!), so they hold an induction process to ease children's nerves and help them settle in before the school year begins.
Induction days (also known as taster days) help your child understand the different structures and routines of secondary school life. If your child is starting a state secondary school, your local authority will have a set date on which all Year 6 children in the area spend a few hours at their new school. This is normally in early July before schools break up for the summer.
Independent schools will set their own induction date, but they are also typically held just before the summer holidays.
While the activities involved can vary, schools are committed to making induction days enjoyable for new pupils and getting them excited about starting secondary school. Most schools will include at least some of the following activities:
Induction days typically start with talks from senior staff, such as the head teacher or the head of Year 7, and in some cases, a current pupil. The speakers will welcome new students and will likely explain the daily operations of the school, such as the timings of the school day, the lunch system, lockers and security of personal items, timetables and extra-curricular opportunities.
Parents might be invited to these talks. There may be a Q&A session at the end and a meet-and-greet following the talk, which is a great opportunity for you to ask any particular questions you might have about your child's transition.
Your child will probably spend most of the day in their new tutor group. They will get to see their form room and meet their form tutor – a teacher who normally takes registration every day and is the person your child (and you) will speak to first if any questions or issues are raised.
They will also meet the rest of the children in their group. At most schools, Year 7 pupils tend to have lessons as a form group, so your child will be spending a lot of time with their new classmates.
It's incredibly normal for children to feel anxious about not knowing anyone at their prospective secondary school and worry about struggling to make new friends. Many induction days will include ice-breaking games to encourage children to get to know one another and develop team-building skills.
Popular games include human bingo (pupils talk to their classmates to tick off certain characteristics on bingo cards, such as who is an only child or who speaks more than one language), physical activities (e.g. ball games of tug-of-war) or creative tasks (working in small groups to build paper towers).
Unless your child is moving to a small independent or specialist school, their new school will be significantly bigger than they are used to. The average secondary school has around 1,000 pupils, which means there are lots of new rooms and buildings for your child to get familiar with.
Some induction days will give your child the opportunity to explore the school using a site map and their class timetable, helping them work out where their new lessons will be and how to reach the right room in a timely manner.
Some schools will give pupils a first taster session in their new subjects. Many children will encounter lots of new subjects in Year 7 – such as different languages or the separate science disciplines of biology, chemistry and physics.
Your child's induction day might include mini timetabled sessions in some of these subjects, giving them the opportunity to meet their subject teachers, get to grips with moving around the school site for different lessons and find out what resources and equipment they will need to pack in their school bags.
Here at Atom Learning, we understand how challenging the transition from primary to secondary school can be for both children and parents.
If you're looking for more advice on supporting your child with senior school preparation, catch up on our recent parent webinar. Charlotte will help you understand more about:
The importance of senior school preparation
How to support your child with the transition to secondary school
How to prepare for Key Stage 3
How to use Atom in Year 6 to prepare for Year 7
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