Transition to secondary school

Transitioning from primary school to high school

Starting high school is an important milestone for all students. It can involve many changes such as new travel arrangements, new teachers, a different school setting and new classmates. 
 
Moving from a junior campus to a senior campus, or from one high school to a new high school, can involve similar changes. For students with disability and their families these changes can be particularly challenging.
 

Planning the transition

Transition plan

Schools and teachers can support students with disability as they move from Year 6 to Year 7, or from a junior campus to a senior campus, with a transition plan. The aim of a transition plan is to make sure schools are fully prepared to meet student learning needs so the new student feels confident about moving towards their next educational or life stage.


Collaborative planning

Collaborative planning is where school staff meet or collaborate with the student, their parents or carers, primary teachers, and other stakeholders to identify what adjustments the school needs to make so that a student with disability can fully participate in all aspects of school life. 

Collaborative planning may involve developing a transition plan or planning for personalised supports, or for Aboriginal students and their families, a Personalised Learning Pathways plan, or PLP, alongside a transition plan. 

Some adjustments that schools might make include making changes to the buildings and classrooms (for example, adding ramps, or creating quiet spaces), providing assistive devices and furniture (for example, providing ‘cut out’ desks) or allowing students to use specialist software and personalised computer settings (for example, software for writing and translating Braille). 

Schools are responsible for the regular monitoring of adjustments in relation to the student’s educational progress and care for their overall wellbeing at school.

Personalised learning and support planning 

Personalised Learning and Support planning should consider the student’s strengths and interests as well as the learning strategies that worked best for them at primary school. 

For Aboriginal students, this also includes creating pathways to meaningful cultural activities and pursuits, and connection with community. It is important that the student can have input into their Personalised Learning and Support Plan and let their new teachers know about their likes, dislikes, favourite pasttimes and hopes for the future.

This will help high school teachers to draw on a student’s interests and strengths to create learning goals that fit with the curriculum of high school.

Be sensitive to cultural and language differences. Check that the family are comfortable with all aspects of the Personalised Learning and Support Plan. If you develop the goals and strategies together everyone will likely have more commitment to them.

Supporting a student with the transition

Many students, including a student with disability, may feel anxious about the upcoming changes. In particular, many students may worry about whether they can manage school work and homework in high school. Some may be anxious about changes to routines and friendships. Below are a few strategies for teachers that may help a student with the transition:

Consider a student's strengths and needs when planning transition activities or short individualised visits

Plan activities that all students can fully participate in. Some key considerations might include:

  • ‘Do activities allow a student who has physical disability or who has low or blind vision to join in?’
  • ‘Have we planned for activities in small groups or pairs for students who feel anxious or overwhelmed in large groups?’
  • ‘How can we manage noise levels on the day?’

Tell students what doesn’t change from primary to high school

Highlight the similarities so that they feel confident that they may already have some of the skills they will need. Access our animation on what will change in high school and what will remain the same.

Local primary schools should partner with high schools

Primary schools could identify ‘Year 7 work’ that students could work on while in Year 6. This helps students feel that they can manage high school work before they transition. It is important that the work is not more difficult than what a student can already do.

Provide visual supports

Visual supports such as photos of school buildings, maps, photos of teachers and staff, checklists and visual timetables may be helpful for some students.

Consider a peer buddy system or a safe person/space for students

Peer buddies can provide social support. Identify specific staff (for example, a School Learning Support Officer or Aboriginal Education Officer) or places (such as the library) that a student can access when they need support.

Help them access positive stories about high school

Help students and their families access how to be organised in our high school stories page to help prepare them for the transition.

 

 

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