Tips for Starting High School in the UK

Any transition or time of change can be stressful.  Moving from primary school to secondary school is an example of a time of transition and change.  Whilst for many students moving to secondary school is an exciting time, for others it is a time of apprehension and in extreme cases fear. 

As a parent it is natural to want to make any difficult situations or transitions as unstressful and smooth running as possible.  If possible, parents usually want to make events exciting and happy rather than filled with fear.  If you have a child that is moving from primary school to secondary school in the UK, then there are steps that you can take to make this transition period as easy as possible for your child.

Preparation days

In the UK, most secondary schools offer an Open Evening for Year 6 students to attend with their parents.  This gives young people the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the environment, to meet the staff and to ask any questions that you have.  If you have not yet chosen your school, then it is wise to visit as many schools as possible to make comparisons between the schools.  Nearer the end of Year 6, your child will have the opportunity, with their classmates, to visit the school for a day and experience some of the lessons in a secondary school.  It is important that your child attends both of these events so that they feel comfortable with their environment.  Without this, your child is likely to feel extremely daunted on their first day. 


It is important that you talk to your child about their concerns about starting school.  Ask them what their concerns are and answer them appropriately when possible.  Some of their concerns may seem trivial to you but do not dismiss them.  Your child is entering into an uncertain period in their lives and any concerns that they have will be very real to them.  Opening up the lines of communication will resolve these concerns and alleviate any stress to your child when they move to secondary school.

Uniform and Equipment

Make sure that your child has all the necessary uniform and equipment before they start secondary school.  To be identified as the only child in the class without a particular piece of equipment or to have an item of uniform missing or different to everybody else’s may embarrass your child and identify them in a negative way to other students. 

It is important that your child does not feel in any way different to the other students at the beginning of secondary school.