Moving On to Secondary School

A young girl moving on from junior school to secondary school

The move from primary to secondary education can be stressful for any young person, but those with learning disabilities or other special educational needs (SEN) are under even greater stress.

This is because primary schools offer more predictability, usually with the same teacher and classroom throughout the year. The move to secondary school brings a lot of changes - different classrooms and different teachers for each subject, larger buildings spread over a campus, new travel arrangements and coping with support from unfamiliar teaching assistants.

If the transition between primary school and secondary school is not well-managed, children with learning disabilities or SEN can end up feeling isolated and vulnerable. Their emotional health suffers and so does their academic performance. A well-planned transition between primary and secondary phases will help remove any barriers to learning and enable them to reach their full academic potential as well as feeling less isolated.

The project team, a partnership between the Foundation, University of Northampton and University of Cambridge, met with pupils, school staff and parents in three Peterborough schools, to find out about their experiences of this transition.

We wanted to produce some resources to support schools to plan successful transitions. We spoke with around 20 pupils with SEN who had recently moved from primary to secondary school to find out what worked and what didn't work well when they moved school.

We used their experiences and their ideas to develop the following three guides:

We also produced two posters, one for pupils and one for teachers, to help you stay on track and plan the best possible transition from primary to secondary education

The project was funded by the the Bernard Sunley Charitable Foundation and the Constance Travis Charitable Trust.