Practical tips to help your child prepare for secondary school

For children who have left primary school and are about to start secondary school, the summer can be a time of mixed emotions: it marks a milestone in their childhood and they may be looking forward with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. So how can parents help? Former Year 6 teacher, and parent, Christine Jenkins shares her suggestions for ways to address the most common worries and smooth the transition to secondary school.

[Related articles: Tips for starting secondary school | My first year at secondary school]

Getting to school

  • Practise the route with your child by whichever mode of transport they will use, including at least once at the relevant time of day, to help anticipate where the busy areas or difficult junctions may be.
  • If you plan to drive your child to school, consider parking further away so that they can walk part way to boost independence and avoid congestion.
  • Most schools will have held a taster day in the Summer term, so make sure your child finds out then which entrance they should use.
  • Entering a large school site rather than a familiar playground can be daunting to begin with: arrange a meeting place with a friend on the first day so that they can walk in together.
  • Discuss with your child what to do if … they miss the bus or lose their bus pass, and so on.
  • Chatting to a friend or older sibling about what to expect on the bus can be helpful - as long as they understand the need to be reassuring!

Organisation and new routines

  • Ensure your child can read a timetable and a map. Suggest they copy out their timetable - school ones can be in code - and put it on the wall at home. Get them to use different colours, noting the books and other equipment required (e.g. PE kits, food tech ingredients) each day.
  • Many schools operate a two-week timetable. If so, get your child to label which week is which in their planner/calendar/diary, to avoid confusion.
  • Pupils are usually responsible for keeping (and remembering!) their own books, meaning storage is often needed at home. A set of plastic drawers with one for each day, or a ‘to do’ and ‘finished’ box can help with this and aid organisation.

New items of school ‘kit’ and uniform

  • Find out which type of school bag most pupils at the school use. Carrying their own books means that flimsy choices won’t last: rucksacks tend to be better.
  • A mobile phone is almost a ‘given’ these days and can give reassurance to you and your child in an emergency. Schools have differing policies about them though, so be sure to check.
  • Although not essential, access to a computer and printer at home is definitely recommended. Many schools set homework online or encourage pupils to complete work via secure document-sharing sites.
  • When buying uniform, remember your child will grow over the summer. Buy early and do not label it until you have checked the fit again at the end of August - most suppliers will exchange if unworn.

Building confidence and making friends

  • Remind your child that everyone is in the same boat when they start. Talk to them about ways to initiate conversation if they find this difficult.
  • Remember friendships take time to develop: don’t panic if they haven’t made a friend immediately.
  • Encourage them to join clubs and become involved in school life. This can be a good way to make friends with pupils in other forms and year groups.

For more advice on the transition to secondary school, read Christine's Starting secondary school: Five common concerns and ways to help overcome them.


These Bond 11+ Get Ready for Secondary School books have been written specifically to ease the transition from primary to secondary school education. Including practice activities and explanations for the key areas of the Key Stage 3 curriculum, they help children familiarise themselves with what will be expected in their first year, and set them up for success.

Bond Get Ready for Secondary School English Bond Get Ready for Secondary School Maths
Bond 11+: Get Ready for Secondary School English Bond 11+: Get Ready for Secondary School Maths

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