From primary to secondary school

Keep calm and communicate

From primary to secondary school: keep calm and communicate
Geoff Jones
In Go Mum

For students, finishing primary school is generally met with a mix of emotions. However, as they approach the start of secondary school, the nerves start to kick in at the realisation that they’ll no longer be ruling the roost, and in fact, will become little fish in a rather large pond.

However, children aren’t necessarily the only ones feeling anxious as they prepare to enter unknown territory. This transition from primary to secondary education can be just as nerve-racking for parents.

For schools, managing these fears and expectations of parents is as much of a challenge as handling the students themselves. This is why it’s important to bridge the gap between primary and secondary school, helping to make the transition as smooth as possible.

Closing the gap

Most parents develop a positive relationship with their child’s primary school teacher, being able to pop in after school to ask questions or voice concerns. So it can take some time to adjust to the new environment that secondary school brings; a different teacher per subject, and no one main contact for them to go to.

This is why communication is key. It’s important to ease parents in and allow them plenty of time to adapt to these new scenarios and means of engagement. It’s also vital to ensure they are kept up to date with school procedures and student progress.

It’s widely understood that parents have a direct impact on their child’s attainment. Therefore, the more involved parents are in their child’s education, the better their academic performance. However, the transition period between primary and secondary is where home-school communications can sometimes lapse. This is where technology can play a vital role in stopping parents from feeling isolated and making the transition for students a lot smoother.

Making the move

If schools are able to offer regular and consistent communication both before and after children move schools, then this will reduce the amount of confusion or uncertainty. This can be achieved by providing a technological system which develops inter-school relationships. Secondary schools can use the system to contact parents through the child’s primary school, meaning that parents are able to adjust to the upcoming change much earlier on, allowing them to familiarise themselves with specific contacts and the new school as a whole.

To stop parents worrying about how their child is getting on, implementing a school-home communications system enables teachers to send updates, reports and reminders, keeping them informed of their child’s progress or alerting them to any areas for improvement.

Give parents a warm welcome

It’s important for schools to meet parents early on to diminish any worries they may have. Holding a welcome evening is a good way of building positive relationships with prospective parents, allowing them to meet teachers and others in the same position.

Some secondary schools also contact their local primary schools to arrange a time for teaching staff to meet the pupils moving on. That way, when pupils begin secondary school, they already have a familiar face as a contact, helping both children and parents feel more at ease, knowing that there is support already in place.

Technology is king

In a constantly evolving technological era, there are digital processes for almost everything and schools should capitalise on this. Schools can use text, email or push notifications to fire out announcements quickly and efficiently, reaching a large audience in real-time, which is especially useful for urgent messages or incidents.

Using a mobile app as a way of communication also opens an opportunity for two-way conversation between school and parents. Parents are able to book meetings and appointments, check for upcoming events and streamline the coordination between home and school diaries. Some systems can also inform parents about trips and concerts, monitor parental consent as well as collect and manage payments in a secure way. Some systems can even send parents friendly reminders when a payment is overdue.

Providing a welcoming environment for both students and parents as they make the step up to secondary school is key to a successful transition. School-home communication systems enable schools to effectively reach parents, including those new to the school or hard to reach, in real time. Having a simple and instant way of accessing data and information wherever they are will help parents feel at ease, knowing they are continually involved with both the school and their child’s progress.

Geoff Jones

About Geoff Jones

Geoff Jones is marketing director at ParentMail, the UK’s leading school-to-home communications service used by more than 6,000 schools. Available on Android and iOS, the ParentMail app makes it easier than ever before for parents to read and respond to school requests, make payments and complete forms and permissions.

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