Starting Secondary School - A Guide for Parents

7th September 2018

So your child is ready to start secondary school

Starting secondary school is a significant milestone in a child's life. It marks a passage into adolescence and brings about several significant changes. They will go from being the oldest in school to being the youngest, having to find their way around a large new school with different teachers for different subjects.  They will also have to take more responsibility, such as:

  • taking a new and unfamiliar route
  • planning for each day's timetable
  • making sure they have the right books and equipment
  • doing homework most evenings, which has to fit into their routine alongside other interests

All of this will have to fit into your child’s new routine, alongside their other interests and the often daunting prospect of becoming a teenager. It can take time for children to adjust to these new responsibilities.

Planning the journey to school

  • Try to find at least one other neighbouring pupil who is going to the same school so that your child has a travelling companion.
  • Make sure your child always has 'emergency money' (separate from any other money, eg lunch money etc) in case she or he needs alternative transport.

Choosing a school

You may worry about choosing the right school; how you can help your child prepare and how to help them get the most out of secondary education. Choosing a school can be really difficult with many open days and visits to prospective schools and a tight deadline for applying. The following top tips may help to make the process a little easier.

  • Make time to talk to your child about what they want out of secondary school. You and your child may have different reasons for picking a school and it is important to discuss these together.
  • Do your research. At the start of year 6 your local authority will produce a booklet giving details of secondary schools in your area: their open evenings, their admissions criteria and important dates for you to remember. You can also check the schools' websites.
  • Ask other parents or your child's primary about their experiences of local secondary schools.
  • Visit potential schools with your child  so you have plenty of time to consider your options. Talk to your child about what they want to know before you visit any schools.
  • Make sure you get your child’s application form in on time. 
  • Don't pin all your hopes on entry into one chosen school. Try to have at least one second choice that you'll both be happy with to avoid the disappointment of missing out.
  • It is possible to appeal against the decision.