How primary schools can support the transition to secondary school

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How primary schools can support the transition to secondary school

The two months following the year 6 SATs can be a complicated time in the school calendar. Students have a huge transition looming in front of them with the change from primary to secondary school. Many pupils will have spent their entire time in education at the same school, in the same class, with the same group of friends. So, preparing them for the many changes secondary school will bring can seem an enormous task.

There are many things that students will need to know which they may not have had to consider in the past.

New things


For many students, travelling by bus to and from school will become the new normal. This could have many implications for the length of a student’s day out of the house and for their organisation skills: ensuring they catch the bus on time will be important!


Instead of one or two classroom spaces where timings are dictated by one or two teachers, students will need to get used to specific lesson times, moving around a school building, or many school buildings, ensuring they have the proper equipment for each lesson in their timetable.


An enormous difference for so many students during this transition is the move away from parents, carers or teachers keeping them organised, to having to organise themselves. They will need to consider the equipment and resources they need for each of their lessons and if they have recorded and completed any homework assignments.

Navigating a new environment

Secondary schools are often laid out over large areas, some with separate buildings for different subjects. Finding their way around will be a daunting task for many students who have never travelled further than from classroom to hall to playground.

Being taught by more than one teacher

After seven years in education with one main teacher per year, to suddenly having a teacher for each different subject, is a massive change. Some students may flourish learning in different ways from lots of different teachers, while others will feel some anxiety about the different classroom management and teaching styles.

Tips for transition support

Making the environment

One way to begin to prepare students is to set up a secondary school environment. This can be tricky within a smaller primary school setting! Where possible, rotate between different classes or areas of the school with different teachers following detailed timetables. Get students to prepare the equipment they will need ahead of time, holding competitions for who can bring the most correct items to a lesson.

Attainment increases

If there is a particular subject or topic that your student is feeling unsure about then book in some summer holiday tutoring using NTP funding. Our tutoring for schools services are ideal for students lacking confidence and can be taken at home – an hour or two each week can make a world of difference.

Independent learning projects

Allowing freedom of choice but the responsibility of organisation, an independent learning project could hold a student’s interest during this unsettled time but also begin to teach them about the organisational steps they made need to take with their learning in secondary school.

Supporting at transition days

Both before and after a transition day, students will have any number of different emotions. Excitement may have turned into trepidation or anxiety may have been eased. Some students may need support in attending these days. Preparing students ahead of time, and taking time to answer questions and working through the issues which may have come up after a transition day, is key.


This is a time of new beginnings for students, but it is also the end of their primary education. Allow them to celebrate and reflect upon their memories of primary school.

Space and time to talk

Allowing students to discuss their thoughts and feelings with their peers and with yourself, will help you answer practical questions but will also help unravel the many varied and changing emotions this time will bring.

Written by Bianca Donald, curriculum assistant at TLC LIVE