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Stepping into secondary school - lessons from a Year 11

Updated: Jul 27, 2022

We asked a secondary school pupil, who has recently finished his GSCEs to think back to when he first started at secondary and give us his advice for making the transition. Here's what he said:

Moving to Secondary school is a sharp and abrupt change for most kids and it's understandable that they'll be nervous, I definitely was. Here are a few things I wish someone had told me at the time.


The daunting monster of ‘homework’ is something that sounds a lot worse than it actually is. In my panicked 12 year old head I assumed homework would mean 1000 word essays or tapestry length maths worksheets all due the next day however it's far less intimidating than that.

Teachers only rarely set homework and when they do it's going to be manageable amounts of work that's recapping whatever was done in class that day. As well as that it will often be well-over a week before it is due.

Some advice I would give is to select a single day of the week to complete whatever is set after school. This makes the workload manageable and means you never get overwhelmed by homework, it can also stop procrastination which is always very tempting when there is a lot to do.

Teachers and Discipline

Perhaps it's just the rosy kaleidoscope of childhood, but primary school teachers always seem like nice people. That feeling tends to fade as you hit adolescence and consequently secondary school teachers can appear slightly meaner. I remember dreading the thought of new teachers and strict rules all of which seemed far too ‘grown-up’ for me to handle.

I wish I could have been reminded that there's no expectation of sudden maturity and that it's fine to still want to be a child for a while as it can all feel like everything is moving too fast. The teachers are not expecting perfection so it's important just to remind your tween that the teachers, the rules and the school will be as friendly as they were before.

In fact, if you ask me, the teachers are the best part of secondary school. All the weird and eccentric adults in the area seem to work at their local secondary school and it becomes one of the best aspects of the secondary experience.

Friends from primary school

When I was about to join secondary school, what I was worried about above all was the thought that I would drift from my old primary school friends . That can sound like a depressing sentence at first but unfortunately it's just what happens. However I was worried that it would be an immediate and uncontrollable thing, that one day they would be there and the next day they would be gone and out of reach.

Of course that's not what happens, I would see my old classmates in lessons or at lunch or after school. But ultimately you make new friends and before long it feels like you never even went to primary school.

My advice for you tween on making new friends in year 7 would be to try and remember how nervous everyone else will be and how eager to talk to someone they are. A little top-tip would be to chat to the person sitting next to you in class, you never know, they might become your best friend.

Here are a few helpful tips to show your tween!

● If you feel like you're behind on your homework or revision then go to the library during lunchtime and try to catch up on it.

● Pick a single day of the week to try and do as much homework as possible so that it never becomes too big to handle.

● People can be nervous about being in a new school, so if you see someone on their own then go over and say ‘hello’, what's the worst that can happen?

● Don't feel like you have to get on social media just because other people are, it's entirely your decision whether or not you want to be online.

● It really is fine to ask for help when you don't understand something in a lesson, after all, that's the whole point of school.

● If you get lost in the school - which can happen a lot even when you've been going there for five years - don't be scared to just ask an older student for directions.

● This may sound stupid, but don't be nervous. You'll feel completely at home within three weeks!

I hope some of this has helped as much as it would have helped me because the change from primary school to secondary shouldn't be as stressful or worrying as it sometimes can be.

Contributor: Joe, aged 16, recently completed GCSEs and about to do his A-levels.

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