Primary to Secondary

Moving up to Year 7 is a big step. For families of Year 6 students, the summer holidays can seem like a long run-up to leaving the comfort of the familiar behind and preparing to enter the unknown that is secondary school.  

For many children, secondary school represents a step towards autonomy and the whole process of growing up and leaving childhood behind. It can be overwhelming for children and parents alike. Some children will be starting at a new school that is 10 times larger than their primary school!

Watch this video of Year 7 students introducing primary school students to starting high school life.

As a parent, you want to see your child become excited at the idea of starting this new chapter in their life and you want to help keep any stress or anxiety to a minimum.

There are many things parents and carers can do to make the transition as easy and smooth as possible for your child, and things you can think about doing beforehand that will help your child adjust and settle in quickly when school starts. 

Watch this video for some advice on how parents can help ease their children into a successful start to secondary school.


Here are 10 tips from author of Secondary School: A Parent's Guide and teacher of 30 years, Glynis Kozma, on how to help your children make the change smoothly:

Build Your Child's Confidence

Settling in well is all about self-esteem. Children with high self-esteem are less likely to be bullied, or to bully, or belong to gangs. They are more likely to gather a wide circle of friends. They can confidently say "no" to anything with which they don't feel comfortable. So tell them how great they are. When did you last pay them a compliment? They don't have to have done anything special to deserve one; a compliment on how well they look after a pet, or that they are kind or thoughtful, goes a long way. Do this daily and watch their confidence develop.

Listen to their fears

Your child is possibly anxious and also afraid their concerns will appear trivial. For instance, if they become lost in the maze of corridors, what should they do? They could make their way to the school office – they should have a map – or find a pupil or teacher to direct them. What they shouldn't do is hide in the toilets until the lesson is over. Talk through the options with them. Do this for every concern they may have so that they know you take it seriously.

Remind your child to be a good friend

Remind your child that being a good friend, especially to shy and quiet children, is one way to make friends. Be encouraging if they want to invite friends home and suggest it if they don't.

Be Positive

Show that you feel positive about their school and "talk it up" even if it was not your first choice or you lost an admissions appeal. If you have high expectations, these will be sensed by your child.

Trial run getting to and from school

Have a trial run of the route, especially if they walk or cycle. If they miss a school bus home you need to talk through what they will do, especially if you are working and can't pick them up straight away.

Start preparing for the school morning routine

Get up earlier during the last week of the holidays so that early starts for school aren't a shock to the system.

Stick to the uniform code

Stick to the uniform code. Your child will feel more comfortable from day one.

Emergency money and credit

Make sure your child has emergency money and credit on their mobile phone – if it's allowed in school.

Making changes at home 

Think about setting your child up with good study habits now, and set the expectation early that homework will be part of their daily lives, even if it is revision or reading a book. Start making any changes you might need to at home so they have the time, space and energy for homework.

One parent who has three children shared her strategy: homework begins at a set time every day, after dinner, with all three children working simultaneously to avoid distractions. In the early days you should check their homework diary daily and if it looks empty, check with other parents or the school. Your child may simply forget to write it down.

For some more good study tips, have a read of these study habits for success.

Glynis Kozma Parent book

Encourage extra-curricular participation

Encourage them to join lunchtime or after-school clubs. They are a great way to make friends. If after half a term they really don't enjoy it, they can drop it.


Give your child a few weeks to settle in. Ensure you know who to contact for any situation, and the school's preferred means of contact. If they are having any problems, social or educational, make an appointment to see their year co-ordinator.