How has the year 7 transfer gone?
It’s just over a month since the start of the new school year and hopefully, your child has settled in well to the new term. If your child transferred into Year 7 in September, how are they getting on after the initial transition period? Can they find their way around the school? For some, this can be very daunting as they move from a small primary school with most of their lessons in one room to a multi-building, multi-corridor environment where they’re on the move between lessons all the time.
I conducted a survey recently to see how current secondary school pupils felt when it was their turn to transfer into secondary school. The youngsters, aged between 12 and 17, were asked to choose three words to describe how they felt before they transferred to their new school. They were split between those who felt anxious, nervous and worried, and those who were excited and looking forward to it (see the blue bars in the graph below). I guess this is fairly typical of budding year 7s – and it’s possible to be both excited by the opportunities and ‘adventure’ of starting secondary school and apprehensive about what the future might hold in, what is essentially, a largely unknown quantity, at the same time.
The good news is that when they thought back to how they felt after a month, however, the vast majority chose positive feelings and the numbers selecting feelings like nervous, apprehensive and worried have declined dramatically (see orange bars) suggesting that the pupils were feeling much more comfortable after just a few weeks. In those first crucial weeks, the pupils have, by and large, learned to navigate their way around the secondary school buildings, become used to the timetabling system and the array of new subjects and teachers, have got to know their classmates and, indeed, many pupils across their year group. Many schools will have organised a residential trip for their new year 7s by now, one which will typically have involved a number of teambuilding and ‘get to know you’ activities. And this will all help with settling into the school and its routine and starting to identify with the organisation. If by half term your new year 7 hasn’t made this shift in their attitude towards the new environment, then it’s probably time to discuss this with their form teacher or head of year to find out what’s going on and to agree a way forward to help your child settle in.
The pupils were asked what the best piece of advice they had received prior to starting year 7. The most common piece of valuable advice they received was not to worry, while others highlighted the need to ‘be yourself’, to work hard and make new friends as key.
Parents were the source of most of this advice, followed by siblings, who presumably had been through the same experience. Interestingly, different forms of social media, websites and radio or TV programmes weren’t regarded as good sources of advice in this instance, possibly as 10/11 year olds aren’t using social media as much as their older peers.
When asked about the worst or least helpful piece of advice they were given, the responses varied, with much of the advice focusing on negative messages for the new year 7s, like ‘don’t get beaten up’ and ‘it’s really scary’.
Other pupils appear to be a key source of this less helpful advice, with siblings and friends (including from other children about to start year 7) accounting for 46% of the worst advice given, suggesting that youngsters might be well advised not to listen to closely to their friends or older siblings and school colleagues. This was followed by advice from teachers at 33%. This may be the primary school teachers that the pupils are leaving or perhaps the new teachers on an induction day. Either way, perhaps the results hint that schools need to think more about how to manage the emotional impact of transitioning.
Finally, I asked the youngsters in the survey what piece of advice they would give to pupils transitioning to secondary school. Their responses clustered around four key themes: friendships, work-related, being true to yourself and attitude. Here are some of their answers . . . . .
What piece of advice would your Year 7 like to pass on to the next intake?
If you wish to discuss your child’s transition to secondary school, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.