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How Year 6 Teachers can Prepare Students for Secondary School in the Last Weeks of Term

You’ve guided and nurtured them this year... now you can use the next few weeks to help them prepare for their journey through secondary school, says Paula Spencer...

  • How Year 6 Teachers can Prepare Students for Secondary School in the Last Weeks of Term

By now all your Y6 pupils know the secondary school that they will be starting in September. Some may have already had their taster day at the school, and taster lessons, meeting other pupils who will be starting with them, their head of year and some of their teachers.

They will naturally feel anxious about leaving their primary school; it is a place of familiarity, they are used to you as their teacher, and they feel safe and comfortable. Secondary school is a change from all of this.

You can help them in their last few weeks at primary school by letting them know what’s in store, how things will change and why.

They’ll be concerned about new routines, such as starting school earlier.

Some students will be going to school by themselves, catching a bus, walking or riding a bike.

They’ll have to get used to the form system; they’ll be allocated a registration group and tutor, going through their whole school life with them.

Secondary school requires that students are ready to learn, so self-organisation will become a necessary skill.

Pupils will need to remember to bring their own equipment such as stationery, calculators, maths sets, PE kits, ingredients for food technology and books for different subjects each day.

To help with organisation, they’ll be given a diary and a subject timetable. The purpose of the diary will be to record homework and other events.

The timetable is a reminder of lessons and the classroom where the lesson will be taught.

They will learn new subjects taught by different teachers and, yes, there will be more homework. For some pupils, the thought of this will be daunting and they might find it harder to talk about their feelings.

Others will be excited about the prospect of moving up and taking on more responsibility for themselves.

Listening to pupils’ concerns and helping them to talk about anxiety and expectations will help to develop their confidence and self-esteem.

One way to do this is to organise a number of transition sessions for pupils involving a range of activities to address their worries. Explore their thoughts, feelings, fears, and concerns about change.

You could include a range of topics where pupils work together in small groups or pairs with students who they feel comfortable with.

You might develop simple anonymous questionnaires requiring tick-box answers about specific topics, whole class discussion, or role plays that focus on different aspects of concerns.

Pupils can generate a list of topics they want to discuss. They should also agree on ground rules so that children listen to each other, respect different points of view, and recognise that not everyone will want to speak.

They can discuss their thoughts about secondary school – what they’ve been thinking about in particular: the things they’re looking forward to, what they’re worried about and what they’ll miss about primary school.

It might help them to discuss why friends are important, what they expect from them, and what they think their friends expect from them.

It’s also worthwhile to explore conflict.

It’s an everyday occurrence; it’s how it’s managed that matters. The children should discuss the best way to handle conflict in different situations: with their friends, parents and teachers.

They will also have concerns about bullying.

But there are the positive aspects of their learning journey to explore too. What new subjects are they looking forward to?

So, after several years of hard work, it is time to say goodbye to pupils you have so carefully guided and nurtured.

You will miss them and their families. Some will return to let you know how they are getting on and others will spot you out doing your shopping and shyly tell you how much they loved their primary school days.

We promise to take care of every one of them, to understand their quirks and insecurities.

We will try our best to recognise and nurture their talents and we will encourage them to aim high and respect themselves and others.

Thank you for all that you have done to prepare them for big school – rest assured they will be in good hands with us.

From Paula Spencer

Paula Spencer is school counsellor at Greig City Academy, North London. BBC Bitesize’s Starting Secondary School campaign is now live. It provides resources for children, teachers and parents to help support transition.

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