Our boy made the leap from primary last year, and spent a lot of the summer holidays worrying about what was in store. Here’s his advice for Year 6s moving up to secondary – which we hope will help them to stress less and relax more these holidays.
Moving from primary to secondary is one of the biggest leaps we make in life, I think. The difference in environment, expectation, responsibility and workload is massive, and this level of change is so daunting – especially for an 11 year old.
This time last year, we had a stressed-out boy. He was fresh from his last day as a Year 6 in the caring embrace of his primary school, and was staring down the barrel of the big move. It was a summer of apprehension: there were times when he seemed to be making peace with it all, but they were punctuated with periods of anxiety about the different worries he had – despite the school’s efforts to settle their new pupils in before they arrived.
But a year on, I asked him to think back to how he felt then. Did the things he feared the most turn out to be as bad as he thought? No, he said. In fact, it all went much more smoothly than he had expected.
Then I wondered what advice he would give to someone who felt exactly the same way – making this huge transition from primary to secondary, and not knowing how they will cope with all the unknown. So I interviewed him for this blog post, and this is what he had to say…
How did you feel before you started?
I felt worried a lot of the time. I had never walked to school without you or Dad. I thought the school was so big I would get lost, and be in trouble for being late. I thought I wouldn’t have the right stuff with me for lessons, and that the homework and schoolwork would be too hard. I was worried there might be people who’d pick on me. I didn’t know what any of these things would be like, or who could help me with any problems. And I didn’t want to get anything wrong.
But really, it was all so much easier than I thought it was going to be.
Tell me more about…
Walking to School
Going without a parent if you haven’t done it before is a bit scary. Try and meet some friends to walk with on the first day – agree a place to meet, and maybe have your parents come with you to the meeting point to see you off. If you don’t have anyone living near you and you’re worried about walking on your own, take a phone and call your parent while walking. It can make you feel a bit safer and like you’re not alone.
Finding your Way
We had a tour and a treasure hunt at summer school, but I did forget lots of that before I started properly. It was really useful to have a map to check though, which we got on the first day. And what really helps is that if you are late to a class in the first couple of weeks, you won’t get into trouble with the teacher. They understand that you have to get to know it all. And once you do, it doesn’t seem as big as you thought it was.
Not having the Right Stuff
This was quite difficult for me, but getting into a good routine was the key really. I make sure I have everything sorted the night before for the next morning, and in the first few weeks I used a list of things I had to have in my bag every day, and my timetable to pack the right books and PE kit.
If you have a locker, you may want to keep your books there, so you’ll always have them at school – as long as you’ve got time to get to it in the morning or at break, to fetch the ones you need for the day.
Schoolwork and Homework
The work wasn’t as difficult as I thought it was going to be, in the end. Lots of it was based on work we already knew from junior school – just a bit more technical. Like in English, we study poetry in more detail, but it’s all the same terms as we’re used to, like ‘alliteration’. The teachers mostly make things easy to understand too, and help if you’re stuck.
With homework, ideally I’d say get it done as soon as you get it, but if you have busy evenings with clubs and activities, it helps to choose a night in the week that will suit you for getting it all done. I prefer to keep my weekends homework-free whenever possible! And if your homework is set online, don’t forget to check regularly to make sure you haven’t missed something. Sometimes teachers forget to mention it in class but you still need to do it.
Being Picked On
Yes, this did happen. A couple of people in Year 9 noticed me on the first few days and started making fun of my height, because I am LOADS smaller than everyone else. I asked my form tutor what to do. She helped me to contact my head of year, who sorted it all out with those people and I haven’t had any problems with them since. The adults really care that everyone feels safe at school and will sort problems out if you report them.
Even now I’ve been here a year, people still stare at me and I get the occasional comment about my height. But everyone knows me and is used to the fact that I look different. People get noticed for things that make them different. It happens and sometimes people do pick on others for those things.
My advice: if you are worried about something that has been said or done to you, always go to the teacher you trust most, or a senior teacher you’re happy to speak to, and do it as soon as you can. Don’t wait, because they need to know about it close to the time it happened. There’s less they can do as more time goes by.
And how do you feel now?
There are things I love about school, and things I could live without. But overall, I’m happy there and looking forward to being a Year 8. It will be like another version of Year 7 without having to get used to everything!
What’s your top piece of advice to someone moving up?
Lots of the things I worried about, I shouldn’t have. The important thing to know is that all the teachers are there to help, and they want you to feel settled and comfortable. So find one you can talk to if you have any problems. You’ll soon feel like you’ve been there forever. And enjoy your summer holidays!