Transition to Secondary School

Transition to secondary school. Activities and advice to support mental health in children

The transition to secondary school from primary is a milestone for most people in their academic journeys and one that should be celebrated. However, for some it can be a daunting and difficult time tainted with worry.

Here at Headsup, we do extensive work with pupils in year 6, at primary schools across Devon and Worcestershire to support the smoothest of transitions to secondary so that pupils settle well and begin their secondary career in the best possible way.

Our guide provides tips for parents to follow and activities for pupils. You can download the full booklet for use at home or school here 👉

In the meantime, here’s a little advice to get you started.

What are the common worries?

Pupils going to secondary school may worry about a whole host of different things. These are the most common worries (taken from the STAR Study, UCL and Cardiff University, 2013).

Getting Lost

Secondary schools tend to be bigger than primaries. So, it is understandable that pupils think they may get lost. But remember you are with lots of other pupils who are in the same boat as you and they’ll be plenty of people, including teachers, around to ask.  

Top tip for transition to secondary school

Getting Bullied

Just because you are in a bigger school does not mean there is any more or less bullying. But remember, it is a school’s responsibility to address bullying quickly and effectively. If you feel like you are being bullied, it is important to report it to an adult sooner rather than later (look out for your friends too).

Discipline and Detentions

It can seem that teachers at secondary are much stricter than those at primary. Don’t worry, you’ll soon get to know the rules and expected behaviour standards and what seemed strict at the beginning will become part of your normal routine.


There may well be more homework than you got in primary school, but it will be given on set days, and you’ll get into a routine of checking for when its due. Many schools offer a homework club after school if you need extra support.

Top tips for transition to secondary school

Losing old friends

With so much going on, the thought of friendships changing as well can be quite a worry for some. Sometimes, your friendships will change and sometimes they will stay the same. It is OK to welcome new friends without forgetting the old ones. Plus, it is now easier to keep in touch with old friends than ever before with texting and email. So make the effort to reach out to your old friends too.

Activities that support our mental health

Looking after our mental health is really important. Making some time to do the things below can improve your mental health and make you feel good.

Activities to support your mental health in children. Mental health in children.

For more support on how to deal with the transition to secondary school, take a look at the BBC Bitesize website that has celebrity tips and videos that address all your worries.

As parents, what can you do to help the transition to secondary?

As always, parents play a vital role in supporting their child through the transition.

There are a number of actions that parents can take to help with the transition. They should encourage their child to:

Become more independent.

Consider tasking your child with some responsibilities at home, such as washing up or making a meal for everyone or looking after a pet.

Manage money.

Schools may have a pre-pay system for lunches and snacks. You could try something similar at home, where your son/daughter has to ‘pay’ for each snack throughout the day. They’ll be budgeting in no time!

Travel Planning.

If your child will be walking or catching the bus or train, practise the journey so they can feel confident when the day comes to do it without you.

Check out the school’s website.

There will be a wealth of information on the school’s website, from maps of the school to teachers they may meet to what they can look forward to studying. Encourage your child to browse the website and discuss all the positives with them.

Speak positively.

We all have different experiences of our time at secondary school. It is important to discuss the positive ones with your child and not dwell on any negative experiences you may have had. Speak positively about all of the experiences to look forward to, such as trips and awards and discuss good friendships that you had at school. Your positivity will transfer to your child.

Visit the school where possible.

Fortunately, it seems that most schools are once again offering a transition day. This usually happens in July and is when your child will spend the day at their new school to get to know their new forms, teachers and the school site.

Discuss any worries with your child and try to calm their fears.

It is important that acknowledge and discuss any anxieties your child may have with them. Then, if possible, try to calm their fears and proactively address them. For example, if their fear is getting lost, look at a map of the school. If their fear is being bullied, discuss who they can talk to if that does happen.

Written in conjunction with Halo Writing Services

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