How to cope with starting secondary school

Cerys Griffiths, Creative Director of BBC Education talks about why BBC Bitesize is supporting
secondary transition and the new resources for teachers

Starting secondary school

Lots of ideas & tips to support those first days at secondary school

In September around 752,500 children will move up to secondary school across the UK. The transition from primary to secondary school is an exciting time for many young people, but it can also be a daunting prospect.

Research shows that transition can have a negative impact on some young peoples’ social, emotional and academic outcomes leading to less engagement, lower attainment, reduced confidence, increased anxiety, loneliness and behaviour issues. There are also concerns that this can have a long term impact affecting young peoples’ experience throughout the rest of their time at school. For some, a poor transition can affect the early years of secondary school.

This is why BBC Bitesize decided to launch Starting Secondary School which is aimed at 10 to 12-year-olds, teachers and parents. It’s designed to help support the critical step of beginning secondary school and to take the stress out of it. We focus on giving practical tips, peer-to-peer advice and debunking some of the most common myths about secondary schools, such as unmanageable amounts of homework.

Most of the resources for this campaign are aimed at young people, however, there is specific content for teachers which we produced in partnership with the charity YoungMinds. This links to their Find Your Feet project which aims to enable schools to actively support the mental health and emotional well-being of children as they start the next chapter in their lives. The new resources include a video and an activity and cover a range of broad themes like coping with change, developing support networks and dealing with new challenges. We learned, from talking to teachers and experts, that throughout the transition process, it’s fundamentally important that the child is at the centre of the conversation. Staying child-focused has also informed lots of the content aimed directly at young people which we hope will also be useful for teachers. For instance, the series of videos we made with the stars of the CBBC series Our School features them talking about what they like about secondary school, what surprised them and how they dealt with problems and challenges. This peer-to- peer approach, where older kids act as mentors, is really powerful and could provide useful discussion starters.

Our research also showed that one of the biggest fears children have is losing and making friends, therefore we are releasing a series of animations in the autumn designed to help them navigate the sometimes tricky world of friendships.

As well as young people starting secondary school in September, those moving up to Year 6 will be beginning their own journey towards secondary school. Starting Secondary School is designed to support these students as well, particularly as they get closer to the end of the school year and we’d really encourage transition coordinators and year 6 teachers to signpost the campaign to their students.

For more information visit: www.bbc.com/startingsecondaryschool

 

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