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Starting high school

Starting high school for most young people is a time of mixed emotions. You can facilitate a smooth transition with good planning and preparation.

Ideas to consider

Group of teenage girls in school uniform smiling and taking a photo on a phone.

  • Obtain the high school orientation event dates and ensure your young person can attend.
  • Where possible, plan a gathering of peers from primary school who are heading to the same high school prior to the new school year.
  • Establish the best communication pathways for you with the school, including the Head of Learning Support.
  • Prepare the young person’s personal profile as well as their vision statement. Let your young person lead this discussion.
  • Obtain recent medical, therapy, and school learning reports to assist the transition.
  • Arrange a meeting with the principal and head of learning support to discuss your young person’s support needs, adjustments, funding eligibility and transition support.
  • Arrange to purchase your young person’s school uniform with plenty of time. Obtain a list of the stationery supplies and texts they require.
  • Cover and colour code texts and exercise books.
  • Prepare a social story for your young person to assist with the transition if needed.
  • Arrange additional visits to high school closer to the new school year and request school dates and timetable for young person’s subjects early.
  • Spend time discussing any concerns your young person has about transitioning to high school. If their anxiety is very high, seek further professional support.
  • Request information on Individual Education Plan (IEP) meetings – how to add agenda items and call IEP review meetings if needed and set up for early in the new school year.
  • Ask for a mentor in high school to support your young person, while they settle in.
  • Request a list of teachers and their emails to communicate about any class issues or adjustments.
  • Request school date information about school clubs and extracurricular activities. This can often be found on the school website, newsletter, or school app.
  • Arrange an appointment with the Head of PE if the student has any additional needs for carnivals throughout the year.
  • Contact the Information Technology department if assistance is needed with technology or assistive technology.
  • Provide information to the school office of your workdays or availability for quick contact.

Practical tips

  • School bag. Students in year 7 are usually required to carry textbooks, sports gear, and laptop to school in a backpack. Students with disabilities may have difficulties with this amount of equipment to carry. Many schools may not have lockers or a safe place to put their personal belongings during the day. Think about a solution, e.g. a double set of books, assistance from a peer, or a place for storage.
  • Phone policy. What is the policy for students with mobile phones and can a young person use their phone, if necessary, during school hours? What extra arrangements can be made if a student has anxiety or disabilities? Is there a safe place to lock away the phones?
  • Bullying policy. What is the procedure if bullying occurs? Are students in the year group aware of the policy and where to go to report this?
  • Using public transport. Familiarise the young person with the transport route to school. Begin travel training early, so the young person is confident to travel solo by the time school starts. Apply for train passes, bus passes or assisted travel as soon as possible. Also, think about after school. What arrangements need to be made for support or coming home with no adult supervision?
  • Information on Learning Support. Establish the best way to communicate with Learning Support at the school.
  • Map of the Year 7 rooms. If needed, arrange for a map for where the young person will need to be each day.
  • Online safety. There is some great information on the eSafety for Young People website to help your young person stay safe online.
  • Parents & Citizens’ Meetings. Find out when these are held and if there is an Inclusive Education subcommittee established to support young people with diverse needs attending the school.