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Transitioning to high school

The transition from primary school to high school is a big change and finding the right school can feel daunting. However, with the right planning you can find a school that is the right fit for your child and give them the support they need to thrive.

Moving to high school has three main stages:

  1. Choosing the right high school
  2. Preparing once you have chosen a school
  3. Starting high school

A key worker can support you and your young person throughout the transition. Find out more about the role of key workers below.

1. Choosing the right high school

A teenage girl smiling and holding schoolbooks.

Moving to high school is a significant transition for any young person. Finding the high school that seems to be the right fit can be a process. It may feel daunting to look for a school that will welcome your young person and work with you to provide the best possible environment to support them. The changes in environment, daily routine, academic structure and expectations can be challenging for many students with a disability or additional learning needs.

Visit our Choosing the right high school’s website to learn more about it.

You will find:

  • Information on planning and preparing early
  • An outline of what your child’s rights are when receiving support from the school
  • Links to resources
  • Some questions to keep in mind and ask the schools you are enquiring at.

2. Preparing once you have chosen a school

Once a high school is chosen for a young person, planning and preparation for a positive transition begins.

Families may need key worker support from this point, introducing reasonable adjustments, assistive technology applications and developing a clear vision for a young person. It is critical to establish early contact with the school’s Learning Support teacher and Year 7 coordinator. Students with accessibility requirements will need significant key worker support with the school and the Department of Education to ensure ramps or classroom access is in place. The lead in time for funding and accessible public works are often longer than 12 months.

Visit our Preparing once you have chosen a high school’s website to learn more about it.

You will find:

  • Practical tips and tricks to assist with this planning phase.
  • Information on applying to the different streams of schools in NSW (public, Catholic and independent)
  • A couple of videos to watch with your young person to highlight the differences between primary and high school
  • Information about the assisted school travel program for public schools.

3. 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. This point is when the young person can help more with the practical ideas to enable this smooth transition to high school.

Visit our Starting high school’s website to learn more about it.

You will find:

  • Practical ideas that can be explored with a key worker, some that can be implemented on your own, and some that your young person can lead the way with
  • Activities over the period of the first few months at school, e.g. school camps, phone policies and rules, staying safe with social media, social skills and making new friends
  • Tips on being organised and keeping up with homework.

How a key worker can assist in the transition

Every young person is unique. Their specific needs, hopes and dreams need to be recognised and addressed by their new school. Ensuring the transition to high school is a positive and well supported experience for your young person can be improved by working together with a key worker, using specific tools to identify the strengths and any learning needs.

Key workers help others to describe their needs and see bigger picture priorities. They then work collaboratively with the people they support to break down big priorities into smaller manageable steps.

They combine the knowledge of person and family-centred practices with their individual skills and practice background to provide specialist support. All key workers work within a larger team and can draw on the team around them to meet the diverse needs of the families they support. Lifestart key workers will listen and then use specific tools to co-design an approach for planning and preparation for your young person’s transition to school or high school, together with your family and young person.