Improving learner outcomes

School transition tips for children with SEND

Author Corrine Wilson

Date 15th Jul 2019


For many children, the transition from primary to secondary school is an exciting time but often, for many children with SEND, these feelings are also accompanied by anxiety about how their needs will continue to be supported.

All children and young people face unique challenges when starting secondary school, from getting to know new staff and making new friends to developing an increased independence. Such challenges can be even greater for children with SEND, making it much harder to focus on their learning, meaning it may take much longer to adapt to their new school.

So what can we do to help? It’s simple, planning and preparation for transition will help most children to settle in, get used to new routines, and develop their social skills. Here are our top 5 tips to ease transition:

Preparation is key
The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today, so start planning from Year 5 for children with SEND. Identify possible secondary schools and arrange visits for the child and parents/carers. Also, share real examples of school plans, homework planners and timetables from the new secondary school to help children understand what they look like and how to use them

Organisation and independence
Practice with timetables and school plans will help the child to find their way around and understand what is expected with homework deadlines. During the final year of primary school, the introduction of a diary or calendar is a great idea to help encourage children to think for themselves and organise their time. 

Work in partnership with parents
Share any transition plans with parents/carers so that they can understand the changes to routines and organisation. Invite parents to contribute so that they can continue with additional support into the start of secondary school.

Share with the new school
Primary school staff need to pass on information about children with SEND to the new school’s staff.  Teachers and teaching assistants have a wealth of information about strategies that work well for certain pupils and the type of emotional support that they need. For children with EHCPs (Education Health and Care Plans) invite the secondary school SENCO to attend the primary school final annual review.

Further reading:
For more ideas and resources regarding the transition to secondary school children and young people with SEND visit


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  • Tamanna Jadav said on: 31st Jan 2020 at 20:01

    Transition from Primary to Secondary is very stressful for both parent and child and we have found that having extra planned visits to the secondary school with both parents and teaching staff can benefit the child. Taking lots of photos of the new school environment and then making a transition booklet bespoke to the child can help too .

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