Whether a young person is starting primary school, secondary school, further education or leaving school for university or work, the transition period should always be carefully managed. If a child starts to struggle with a transition, it can have a huge impact of their mental health, wellbeing, and academic ability.

All children and young people can experience a struggle with a transition period. There are, however, groups of people who will be more likely to struggle with transitions. This includes:

If you’re worried that your child may experience a struggle during transition or if you have suspicions that they are, here are some signs to look out for:

  • Feeling like they don’t belong
  • Difficulties coping with their daily routine
  • Increased number of school absences (unauthorised)
  • Challenging behaviour
  • Struggling to make friends
  • Lack of academic progression or a disinterest in school.

What can your school do to help those children struggling?

Use mental health & wellbeing lessons/resources to prepare pupils

Schools can use mental health and wellbeing resources to help pupils develop emotional and social skills from the start of their education. Helping pupils to prepare and cope with change by focusing on how to recognise their emotions.

Being able to recognise and manage their emotions and feelings will help the children to build resilience, while also learning how to problem solve.

Connect with local education providers

  • Work with your local school to identify children who may require additional support when they arrive or leave your school. Work together to develop strategies to help support these children.
  • Create a peer support or buddy system. This is where pupils who have already transitioned to secondary school support newer pupils with their move to the new school.
  • Create social events, including talks, taster days and Q&A sessions. Connecting children who have already been through the transition to secondary school, with the pupils who are due to go through this transition.

Below you will find activity sheets that you can use in your classroom. Use these activities with your class to familiarise yourself with common worries and to help ease transition anxiety.

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