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It can be an anxious time for children either moving up to primary, secondary school or college or returning to a setting after a period of absence.

Schools and colleges are experienced in planning transitions and have tried and tested ways to prepare children and young people for the move.

Some settings have a staff member who plans 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.


What might your child find most difficult e.g. changes to routine, environment, or staff and discuss ways they can be supported with this by:  

  • finding out what your child is worried about and talk to them about what might make things better
  • explaining to your child what will be different
  • seeing photos or a virtual tour of the classrooms and school layout may benefit your child
  • thinking about what has worked well in the past when you’ve helped your child prepare for a new experience
  • reassuring your child with your calming responses reminding them that you and their school or college can support them in managing the changes

Starting a new school

You can contact the SENCo 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 to:

  • find out the names and roles of key staff you can contact in the new school or college
  • 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
  • ask if you can arrange a visit at a 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)

Suggesting creating a scrapbook or photo journal about changing schools before they start could include:

  • leaflets
  • maps
  • key times of the school day
  • example of a timetable
  • daily checklist
  • photos of entrance, classrooms, lunch hall and key staff

Videos to support your child

Short BBC videos about friendships and school life for children and young people:

Short BBC videos for parents and carers: