As children receive their secondary school offers today – Chance UK releases a new briefing drawing on evidence in the UK and internationally which highlights the challenges around transition to secondary school. Research in “Moving On Up: Transitioning to secondary school in a time of COVID” shows that a difficult transition to secondary school can have a long- lasting effect on young people, their well-being and academic attainment.
Those most severely affected could disengage from school at the transition period, have poor relationships with peers and teachers and were less likely to complete secondary school. Mentoring and social and emotional support at this critical stage has been shown to help that transition.
The current cohort of children currently in Year 6 in England are particularly at risk from the effects of the pandemic and the government urgently needs to provide additional support for those children who are due to start secondary school in September 2021.
The Briefing recommendations include:
1. Summer schools running as part of the Covid-catch up scheme should support the transition in terms of emotional wellbeing rather than solely focusing on academic support and include opportunities to understand more about life at secondary school, talk though anxieties and help children develop strategies to cope with change.
2. Secondary schools should be engaging families of students online about to go into Year 7 by providing information sessions about what it will be like so that parents and carers are able to support children through the transition.
3. Pupils who may need additional support need to be identified early through joint working between primary and secondary schools so that they can have tailored support to help develop the emotional well-being and confidence to make the transition to secondary school easier.
4. Schools should be making re-connection a priority. A sense of belonging for new Year 7s should be nurtured and an emphasis put on helping them make friendships and good relationships with teachers.