School Life

Starting High School

Moving to secondary school can feel like a big step. You and your child may have mixed feelings about the change. This move comes at a time when children are changing developmentally. It is normal to have a few worries and nerves but most children cope well with starting high school.

For some children changing schools can be more tricky;

  • Maybe they have not had a positive time at their earlier school.
  • Or maybe they’ve really loved it and don’t want to leave.
  • They may have to leave behind good friends.
  • They may worry about making new ones.
  • It may be the first time they make their own way to school alone.

Starting High School Quiz

It is recognised that transition to high school is a big event for children and families. It signals a time for children starting to become more independent. This quiz gives provides a fun way to explore together with your child some of the challenges they may face. Why don’t you set aside 15-30 minutes to go through the quiz together and open up some of those more difficult conversations?

The quiz is taken anonymously. However we do ask for your child’s age, home postcode and school so we can monitor trends in the responses you give.

Take the quiz!

Dive Deeper

Talking & Listening

Talk about how your child feels about going to secondary school, this will help you understand and support them. Starting conversations when you are doing something you enjoy together, or when you are in the car can help it to feel more relaxed.

You could ask;

  • ‘How are you feeling about moving schools?'
  • ‘What are you looking forward to?'
  • 'Is there anything you are worried about?'

To let your child know you are really listening repeat the words they use to you, back to them. There will be times your child doesn’t want to talk. That’s okay, let them know you will make time to talk when they are ready.


You may notice changes in behaviour. These changes might be;

  • not sleeping well 
  • challenging behaviours
  • being withdrawn/quiet
  • not eating the same as usual 

Reassure your child you love them, and you know they’re dealing with a whole new experience. Choose times when you are doing something together you both enjoy, this makes it easier to talk. 

Read more about behaviour

Get Organised

Schools will have a moving up day. This is time spent at their new school and a chance to meet teachers and other children. It is a chance to get to know the new school and find their way around. Children usually feel a bit more confident after this.

Getting Lost

  • Often schools will give a map of the school and classrooms.
  • Reassure your child they can ask for help with finding their way around.

Getting to School 

  • Work out how your child will be getting to school. There might be other children taking the same route.
  • You could practice getting the bus or walk to the school together a few times before they start.

Uniform and Equipment

  • Make sure your child has the right school uniform and equipment they need in time for starting school. You could shop for these together.
  • Shop together for school bag, note books or pencil case. This will give you a chance to talk about the new school.
  • Get you child to practice packing their school bag and checking they have what they need.

If this is a big money worry for your family, talk to your child’s school for advice or you can contact your local Council’s Early Help Teams.


  • Think about whether your child will have school meals or packed lunches. This will help you get organised.
  • Talk about healthy choices with your child. This will help them when more choice is available at lunch and break times than might have been at their primary school.


  • Try and maintain a healthy sleep routine. Try and turn off TV’s, phones and games consoles an hour before bedtime.
  • You might be a bit more relaxed about bedtimes in the holidays. In the last week of the summer holidays try to get back to a good routines and bedtimes. It helps to stick to this at weekends too.
  • Get your child used to organising themselves when they go out during the summer to practice and grow their confidence.

Making Friends

Many schools have buddy systems where other pupils look out for a new child. This helps Year 7 children to make new friends, feel included in activities and offer support in the classroom.

Think about your child joining clubs where other children are moving up to the same school. It helps to see some familiar faces. Once your child has settled in, they might like to join some after school activities to help make friends with the same interests.

Active Norfolk has some low cost sport clubs. These are often held in secondary schools and some also run during the school holidays.

If you notice your child is low in mood and you’re worried about their friendships and bullying, the following pages might help;




Additional Needs

If your child has additional needs you may have different feelings about your child starting secondary school. While the basic needs of all 10/11 year olds will be the same, you will know if extra support is needed. Talk to the SENCO about extra planning and moving up days.

Speak to your child’s new school about their plans to help your child settle. Tell them what your child struggles with and what helps. You could ask:

  • What extra help is there for your child?
  • Is there a safe place they can go if they are worried?
  • Can they have extra help with finding their way around?
  • Will they have smaller groups they can work in?
  • Who should you contact if you have worries?

Find tips and resources from The Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities

Read more about your child’s rights in education from Mencap's

Find out more tips on helping your child move up to secondary school

Other Top Tips

  • Talk about any family routines that will need to change – maybe your child will have to let themselves into the house for the first time?
  • Have times over the holidays when you can put thinking about new school to one side – maybe a day at the park with a picnic or playing out with friends.
  • If problems do come up for your child in the early days let school know. They will want to make this a positive time for your child.
  • Give your child the chance to talk about their day when they are ready. Most children don’t feel very chatty when they first get home.
  • Help your child workout a homework plan and find a quiet place for them to do it.
  • Tell your child that you are proud of them and how they are trying their best.

Your Own Feelings

You may have good or bad memories about your own move to high school. Either way your child’s experience will be different. You can be reassured that schools today are much more tuned in, to what helps children make the move positively.

  • You could talk about your own experiences of moving school, maybe get out some old photographs. Your child will enjoy seeing you at the same age as them!
  • Remember whatever happened for you, it might be different for your child. Let them know you will be there to hear all about it; the good and the bad.

Who Can Help?

Your child’s school will be sensitive to the big change and are there to help all pupils. They will have a plan to support all pupils to make the move. There will be;

  • Detailed handovers between old and new schools about individual children.
  • Information packs about what your child needs.
  • Visits to the new school for your child.
  • Time to get used to where everything is before they start the new term.
  • Buddy systems.

If you are worried give the school a call to talk about how they can help your child.

If supporting your child to get the things they need for school – like uniform – is a big money worry for your family you can talk to your child’s school for advice or you can contact your local Council’s Early Help Teams.

You can also contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.

If you are 11-19 you can text ChatHealth on 07480635060 for confidential advice from one of our team.

You can speak to other Norfolk parents and carers by clicking our online community forum below. 

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