Starting secondary school: Five common concerns and ways to help overcome them

Starting secondary school can be daunting, even for the most confident of children. Christine Jenkins shares her top tips for parents supporting their child through the transition to a new school, including how to approach a suddenly increased workload.

Find more tips and a handy checklist on our Starting secondary school page

Travelling to school by themselves.

  • Have several trial runs of the journey, building up their level of independence gradually.
  • Ask them to text you as they arrive at school safely, if possible.
  • Consider downloading an app which allows you to track where they are (such as ‘Find My Friends’) – also useful picking them up after school trips.
  • Arrange for them to travel with a friend and allow plenty of time.
  • Keep emergency phone numbers in their bag, in case they lose their phone and need to contact you.
  • See also Preparing for secondary school: Getting to school.

Getting organised

  • Use coloured folders to keep the work for each subject together.
  • Ensure they pack their bag the night before: don’t be tempted to do it for them!
  • Encourage them to check off what they need against their timetable.
  • Teach them how to put a reminder in their phone for anything extra to remember.
  • Buy a key ring with stretchy chain to attach to their bag, to avoid lost locker/door keys
  • Make sure there is secure place for bus pass/canteen pass, emergency coins in their bag.
  • See also Preparing for secondary school: Organisation and new routines.

Leaving homework to the last minute

  • Get your child to mark their planner with the deadlines for each subjects’ homework in different coloured pens.
  • Teach them how to create a to-do list with the pieces of homework needed soonest at the top – whiteboards are great for this.
  • If signing their homework planner, talk through what needs doing and how they will organise their time.
  • Help them to distinguish between tasks that are best staggered over time (revision, research, etc.) and self-contained tasks that can be done and then ticked off.
  • Get into a routine for getting homework done and make sure they have a suitable space to work in. A quiet shared area can help you to ensure they are not getting distracted!

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.

Taking longer than expected on homework

  • If this is a ‘one-off’, do not panic. Your child may have found something particularly interesting or challenging and wants to do a thorough job.
  • If it happens regularly, talk about the reason with your child. They may be misunderstanding the level of detail required, finding something hard or simply doing too much.
  • If it continues, encourage your child to talk to their subject teacher. If your child is not confident enough to do this themselves, a quick call or email to school may be useful.

Taking time to settle

  • Try not to panic if they have not made a new circle of friends immediately: this is very common. Reassure your child that it often takes time for new friendships to form.
  • Suggest they join a club at lunch time or after school. Sometimes these start once the term has begun, so this can be a good time to meet new people, now that your child has got used to the new routines of school life.
  • Find out if your child’s school has a buddy system with older pupils assigned to support younger ones. If so, encourage them to speak to their buddy. This can be less daunting than speaking to a teacher.
  • If you are still concerned by half term, make contact with your child’s form tutor. They should know their form well by then, and may be able to give some suggestions and will have noticed if there are any specific problems.

Find more tips and a handy checklist on our Starting secondary school page


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


Oxford School Dictionary Oxford School Thesaurus
Oxford School Dictionary Oxford School Thesaurus

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