This September, thousands of 11-year-olds across the UK will be making the exciting and nerve-racking jump to secondary school. In the coming weeks, they will flood into town with their families to pick out their new uniforms and update their pencil cases in preparation for the next milestone in their lives.
However, the transition to secondary school can be overwhelming. In fact, disadvantaged pupils are at risk of falling behind their more affluent peers by two months per year over the course of secondary school (Education Policy Institute, 2017).
Although the Year 6 pupils we have worked with at Action Tutoring have performed brilliantly in their SATs exams, I cannot help but wonder how they will settle into their new schools.
To gain more of an insight into how they might be feeling, I sat down with my nephew, Zayn (age 11), to ask him a few questions:
How do you feel about starting secondary school?
I’m feeling nervous but excited. When I started primary school I was the youngest but moved on to Year 6 and became the oldest. When I go to Year 7 I will be the youngest again… But I am kind of happy to get a sense of independence.
What do you feel nervous about?
The school is so big and it will be hard to find the different classes.
What has helped you to feel prepared for secondary school?
1) Tutoring – my mum has signed me up for physics tutoring and I really enjoy it.
2) My school had an assembly where secondary school teachers came in and told us about what it will be like and how to stay calm.
3) I spent a day at my new school and that helped me.
If you had three wishes for secondary school, what would they be?
1) Stick with my friends who are coming to the same school as me.
2) Try more subjects like history and get better at them.
3) To play for the school football team so that I can play against different teams
… Oh and I don’t want to get detention because it is going to be long!
Through our volunteer tutoring we have an amazing opportunity to help pupils feel heard and supported by being mindful of what it feels like to be in their shoes. We can share our own experiences, build their confidence and encourage them to try their best to develop!