Moving to secondary school

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Children need a lot of support for the move from primary to secondary school.

Finishing primary school and starting secondary is a big change for any child. If your child has special needs, it can be even bigger. They need lots of help from you and from school.

When your child is in grade six, their school will run ‘Transition sessions’ or something similar. People from the primary school and local secondary schools talk and give out information, to help children and families understand what the move from primary to secondary might be like. They can be a good way to find out about local secondary schools.

Look at secondary school options

Secondary schools usually hold open days around the middle of each year. You can take your child, so you both get a feeling for what each school is like. Your child might want to go to the same school as their mates. Different schools will work for different children.

Sometimes, children who have been in a mainstream primary school go to a specialist school for secondary school. It’s a good idea to look at all the options.

Make sure your child gets the right help in school

For some children whose disability is considered ‘moderate to severe’, their school might be able to get extra funding to help them. Find out more about funding.

If your child’s primary school is getting extra funding to help support them, this is re-assessed at the end of grade five, or early in grade six. This is to check if your child’s needs have changed, and plan the help they can get in secondary school. It’s important that your child gets to all the appointments for their re-assessment, or they might not get the extra help they need in secondary school.

The information from your child’s assessment should be sent to the secondary school you choose for your child. The people who do the assessment organise that – but it is worth checking that the secondary school has got the information. The school should then meet with you before school starts, to plan the extra help for your child.

Older children might need different help

For most children, secondary school is very different from primary school. The school is often bigger, with more teachers and different classrooms for each subject. Most children find it hard going at first, getting themselves from class to class, and having lots of different teachers.

Your child might need different help from what they got in primary school, because of these differences. Also, their abilities, health or care needs might have changed since primary school.

Sometimes there are more facilities in secondary school, like a Deaf facility or a Koorie centre. But sometimes, the secondary school might get less funding for your child than their primary school did. That’s why it’s so important to plan for the help your child will need, before school starts.

Sometimes teenagers might want to be helped in a different way from when they were younger. Often, they might want more of a say in choices about their education.