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What to expect in the first year of secondary school

By the time your child is in Year 6, you’re both pros when it comes to homework schedules, PE kits, friendships and knowing the building inside out. The move to a completely new school for Year 7, with new rules, a new layout, hundreds of unknown children (and seemingly almost as many teachers) can be a challenge. Christine Jenkins takes us through what is expected of both parents and children in the first year at secondary school.

Relationship with school, and what is expected of you

  • The parent/teacher/school relationship can feel different at secondary school. Your child will be taught by up to 10 different teachers, so you are unlikely to feel you know them as well as their primary teachers. Your child may find there are some whose style they prefer to others. Try not to be too concerned about this – it is quite common.
  • Your child will be taught by subject specialists who are passionate about their curriculum areas, so do not be surprised if your child develops an enthusiasm for new subjects.
  • Form tutors (and heads of year) have a pastoral role, although remember they will be subject teachers as well, so these should be your first port of call with any general worries.
  • The school’s website should give details of how to contact members of staff. The best way is often via email. Subject teachers have full timetables, so may not get a chance to reply until the next day. Contact the school office if it is urgent.
  • Parents’ evenings are usually held once a year at secondary schools and consist of appointments to see a number of teachers, usually with your child present too. Many schools now use online booking systems, but alternatively your child may need to book them. Either way, try to book as early as possible. If you have a specific query and do not manage to get an appointment for that subject teacher, email instead.
  • Try to support the school in terms of rules and expectations – this leads to a more productive relationship.

Your child

  • Adjusting to a new school with different expectations, often with a longer day too, can be exhausting. They may need a short break when they come in, before tackling homework.
  • Consider limiting the number of out-of-school activities they do to begin with. However, it can be good to have some continuity and see ‘old’ friends, so do not stop all their previous activities.
  • Try not to panic if they have not made a new circle of friends immediately. Developing new friendships takes time and self-confidence: as the term progresses it becomes easier for children as they find common ground.
  • During this first year, your child will probably grow up rapidly and begin to want greater independence. They may want more private space and time, or perhaps want to start going out to meet friends independently.
  • You may feel you know less about their friends, without meeting them on the playground. Suggest they invite them home occasionally. This gives you chance to meet their parents on pick up too.

Work/homework

  • At the start of year 7, secondary schools will already have your child’s SATs results and teacher assessments. Many schools also carry out either their own assessment or ‘CATs’ tests, as the summer holiday and the process of transition itself can often cause a dip.
  • The national curriculum is no longer assessed via levels; schools are responsible for their own assessment system, which may be explained to you at a parents’ meeting or via their website or documentation.
  • During the year, they are likely to be set homework which needs saving electronically. At the start of term, set up folders on the computer for each subject, ready to save homework into. Encourage them to create sensible file names so that they can easily find documents again. Also teach them to save their work as they go!
  • Your child may have exams during the summer term. Try not to overload them with pressure but support and encourage them.

 

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Books

Please note: all book links lead to more information on Amazon.co.uk

Get Ready for Secondary School English

Bond 11+: English Get Ready for Secondary School

Katherine Hamlyn

Bond is the number 1 provider of 11+ practice, helping millions of children improve their literacy and numeracy skills. Bond Get Ready for Secondary School English provides essential support to help your child adapt to secondary school education, ensuring they have the core skills expected and the confidence to succeed.

Buy on Amazon >

Get Ready for Secondary School Maths

Bond 11+: Maths Get Ready for Secondary School

Andrew Baines

Bond is the number 1 provider of 11+ practice, helping millions of children improve their literacy and numeracy skills. Bond Get Ready for Secondary School Maths provides essential support to help your child adapt to secondary school education, ensuring they have the core skills expected and the confidence to succeed.

Buy on Amazon >