We recognise it will be an anxious time for children returning to school after the lengthy lockdown, and particularly moving up to primary, secondary school or college.
Schools and colleges have experience of planning transition and though traditional ‘transition days’ will not be happening, they will be thinking about alternative ways to prepare children and young people for the move.
Some settings have a member of staff solely for planning transition and you can ask to speak with them directly. If your child has specialists working with them, they could also be part of the transition planning.
How you can help
The most important thing is to think about what your child will find most difficult (e.g. changes to routine, environment, or staff and with social distancing/PPE) and discuss ways they can be supported with this.
- Try to find out what your child is worried about and talk to them about what might make things better.
- Find out from school or college if there are any changes to teaching staff or with the support they usually receive
- Explain to your child that things are going to be different for a while. You may find this activity useful: 'Transition - 'what changes, what stays the same' (opens PDF)
- Seeing photos or a virtual tour of the class/school layout may benefit your child
- Think about what has worked well in the past when you’ve helped your child prepare for a new experience.
- Your child will be reassured by your calming responses and a reminder that you and school or college can support them in managing the changes.
The Psychology and Therapeutic service have some 'top tips' for going back to school, some examples are below:
5 tips for going back to primary school (opens PDF)
5 tips for going back to secondary school (opens PDF)
Starting a new school
- You can contact the SENCO/SEN lead at the new school or college before your child starts, to discuss their needs and to explore and agree a plan of support. There may be opportunities for a joint (virtual) meeting involving the current and new SENCO.
- Find out names and roles of key staff you can contact at the new setting.
- Let the new school or college know about any signs to look out for that your child is anxious, and the best way to communicate with them.
- It may be helpful to ask if you can arrange a visit on a PD day or at another quiet time so they can familiarise themselves with the school surroundings.
- Enquire about any opportunities to meet with their teacher/tutor in advance (this can work just as well virtually)
- A ‘scrapbook’ or ‘photo journal’ around changing schools can be very reassuring. This can include leaflets, maps, times of the school day, timetable if available, a checklist (opens PDF) and also photos of entrance, classrooms, lunch hall and key staff/’who to go to when…’
Supporting your child with any worries
BBC videos about friendships and school life:
Young Minds videos about friendships:
Ideas to support transition
Resources to support transition
(Goes to Anna Freud webpage)
Starting secondary school:
(Goes to BBC Bitesize webpage)
The Suffolk SEND 16+ Transitions Guide (PDF) for information about young people moving beyond year 11
'Planning my future life' - Person-centred planning booklet from Preparing for Adulthood