Starting Secondary School
Updated: Sep 24, 2020
We’ve recently collected my son’s new uniform for secondary school and when he tried it on, it was an emotional moment for the whole family, my wife had that proud look in her eye that said her boy is getting so big, there were lots of hugs going around. I’m sure my son didn't get what all the fuss was about or perhaps he did, he can be nonchalant about these things.
For us though, it feels like just the other day we dropped him off at reception and offered him comfort when he had a petrified look in his eye, as we left him on his own at his new school. We just can’t believe how quickly time has flown by and this is a journey we’ll all share with him.
Supporting Your Child On Their New Journey
Starting secondary school is a monumental milestone in any child's life. I remember how overwhelming the anticipation was for me and how equally exciting and daunting it can be. My son is definitely looking forward to secondary school but also slightly apprehensive about the whole experience. I don’t blame him, it marks a passage into adolescence and brings about immense changes for children. They go from being the oldest in school to being the youngest, they have to get acquainted with completely new surroundings, finding their way around a new school with different teachers for every subject, least of all, they have to settle in socially and make new friends.
Most of all, they have to learn new responsibilities. We live less than 4 miles to my son’s new school, and he has to take 2 buses to get there. He’s never used public transport alone before and it’s a new and unfamiliar route and some schools do encourage kids to use public transport to develop their independence and be more self-reliant. They need to plan for each day and make sure they have the right books and equipment. If anything, this will surely help to improve their organisational skills. The workload increases drastically and they’ll have homework most evenings, which also has to fit in with their routine alongside other extracurricular activities.
Choosing the Right School
It can be an unnerving process choosing the right school to start with, but it doesn't have to be, there is a lot of support to help you and your child to make the right choice. Here are some tips on how we went about helping my son to choose his ideal secondary school.
It’s important to discuss what your child wants out of secondary school. My wife and I had our reasons for picking a school, but my son also had his, so it’s important to discuss these together.
Do lots of research. At the start of year 6, our local council produced a brochure giving details of secondary schools in our area and it provides information on their open days, their admission requirements, and important dates for you to remember, of course you can also check the schools website for more details.
You can visit potential schools with your child on open days, so you have plenty of time to consider your options. It’s good to have conversations with your child about what they want to know before visiting any schools so you can ask questions when you arrive if you don’t feel the handouts offer enough information or you need to know more.
It helps to speak to other parents. We have asked parents in our group about their thoughts on schools in the area, it may offer you some more insight.
Make sure your child’s application form is in on time. Some local councils may prefer these to be done online. You can reach out to the primary if you need help.
Be prepared that you may not get entry into your first choice school. We actually didn’t get ours, but try to have at least one second choice that you'll both be happy with to avoid the disappointment of not getting into your first choice option.
You can however appeal against the school’s decision if your child doesn't get their chosen place. The letter you receive should tell you how to go about the appeal process. If you need more information, you can find it at gov.co.uk
Staying safe at school
Your child’s personal safety may be a concern, especially as they are going to a new school and it is important to ensure your child knows they can turn to you if they have any concerns. We speak to our boys regularly about bullying and it’s something we make sure they’re both aware of. We always remind them that bullying in any form is always wrong and that they can tell us or a teacher if it happens to them. It can either happen face to face or online or sometimes indirectly and can make your child feel uncomfortable or not socially accepted. Make sure you're aware of what social media they are on.
Children may find it hard to talk about bullying, but there are telltale signs to look out for that may suggest there is a problem. When my eldest started primary, there was a little incident of bullying, but we acted very quickly and involved the teachers and the other child’s parents and it was resolved swiftly. There is a website dedicated to bullying with lots of information for parents & children. You can visit Bullying UK for further advice and information.
How did you go about choosing a school for your child?