Primary to secondary school: preparation and planning

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Good planning and communication is critical to your child’s successful transition from primary to secondary school.

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The move from primary to secondary school is a major transition for students. Your child’s primary school should play a key role in bringing together everyone involved in the transition: you, your child, staff from the primary and secondary school and other professionals (such as therapists) who can support your child and contribute to planning. The main forum for this work is your child’s primary school Student Support Group (SSG).

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Initial planning with the secondary school

In the section Choosing a school are many tips for choosing the best available educational setting for your child. If you are applying for a government secondary school – mainstream or specialist – you need to use the official preference form, which will be given out by the primary school.

In many cases, the principal of your preferred secondary school can confirm whether your child will be offered a place well before official notification in term 3. It’s important to meet with the principal as early as possible to start planning your child’s supports, especially if building modifications are needed. Ideally this first meeting should happen in Term 1 of grade 6.

If your child is already on the Program for Students with Disabilities (PSD), they may need to undergo the Year 6–7 review (see below); this process is managed by the primary school.

If your child is not already on the PSD, the secondary school principal can advise whether your child might be eligible, either for the PSD in a government school, or its equivalent in an independent or Catholic school. It’s a good idea to learn about the application process before it begins, as the outcome will determine the level of funding that will be available to help the school support your child. New PSD applications are due in July of your child’s grade 6 year.

Even if your child is unlikely to be eligible for funding, its still important to meet with the principal early on, to start planning your child’s supports and how the school will adjust their programs to meet your child’s needs.

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Start transition planning and prepare for the Year 6–7 review

Transition planning should begin at the first term (of Grade 6) meeting of your child’s SSG. Discuss what the transition planning process will be, and if your child is on the PSD, check if they need to undergo the Year 6–7 review.

All students on PSD funding levels 1 to 4 must undergo the review, which assesses their support needs through a process similar to the initial PSD application. Ask the principal what is required for the review; for example, your child might need to visit therapists or undergo further assessment. The review should be completed in second term; review documents are usually due at DET in May.

Some students who are eligible for PSD support in more than one category might require a change of disability category to be eligible for specialist school. If this is the case for your child, contact the Regional Disabilities Coordinator in your local DET regional office early in the review process.

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Transition planning meeting with both schools

Transition planning between primary and secondary schools should begin in earnest in term 3, or early in term 4. The primary school should organise a meeting with you, your child and staff from the secondary school; you might also suggest they invite other professionals who support your child, such as therapists or medical professionals.

The meeting is a great opportunity for you, the primary school and others to share information about your child’s learning and support needs with the secondary school, to help them prepare. The primary school can document this information in a Transition Statement, which documents your child’s strengths, interests, areas needing support and strategies that help them to feel comfortable and to learn. You should be asked for input into a draft of the Transition Statement and be given a final copy of the document.

This meeting is also an ideal time to review your child’s Individual Learning and Support Plan, and other key tools such as your child’s Student Health Support Plan or Behaviour Support Plan.

This will all help the secondary school plan to meet your child’s needs; for example it should consider:

  • staff training needs
  • your child’s access needs
  • your child’s medicines or equipment might be stored
  • planning for year 7 camp or early excursions, and
  • anything else required to meet your child’s specific needs.

It’s a good idea to let the secondary school know that you want a Student Support Group meeting early in Term 1 of Year 7, to continue development of the Individual Learning and Support Plan, and hear about how your child is settling in.

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Planning to support your child for the big move

The meeting should also create a transition plan, for supporting your child to make the move from primary to secondary school. Ask what the secondary school does to support new year 7 students with the transition, and discuss your child’s specific needs, and whether they could benefit from an extended orientation program. Discuss what other transition supports will help your child to make the big move.

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