Good planning and communication is critical to your child’s successful transition from primary to secondary school.
On this page:
- Initial planning with the secondary school
- Start transition planning and prepare for the Year 6–7 review
- Transition planning meeting with both schools
- Planning to support your child for the big move
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).
- Also see our Tip sheet and planner: primary to secondary school.
“We attend the final Student Support Group meeting at the primary school, where we meet the parent and obtain relevant past documentation, with the parent’s permission. We arrange a school visit for the student, where they are accompanied either by the integration aide from primary school or the parent. On orientation day one of our aides is with the student for the whole day. We have an occupational therapist who can look at the school and apply for any works.
We provide an information pack to the student, including a sample timetable, map of the school with specific areas highlighted, a copy of school rules and the first few pages of the diary. We spend time going over these with the student.
We also provide teachers with strategies to get the student started, and we develop a timetable of integration aide support. Every teacher contributes to the Individual Learning and Support Plan for students with additional needs (both funded and unfunded).
I run professional development for teachers about how to modify the curriculum, give them a booklet of examples of modified work and am available to assist them with curriculum modification. We keep progress journals for each student, which are updated twice a week. I keep in touch with parents regularly and act on any concern raised straight away.” Special Needs Co-ordinator at government mainstream secondary school
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.
- Read more about funding application processes for the PSD and its equivalents in A guide to supports for students.
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.
“I requested fairly strongly that I would like Patrick to be assessed [for funding at secondary school] … This was something we had not been successful in before. After successive requests, I was really pleased that the school took me seriously, even though in their minds, it wasn’t likely that this would be successful. But they did engage the psychologist, and go through the series of tests. And they did actually implement for an occupational therapist and a speech therapist to come, and meet with him once a week. So there were some gains.
Patrick also has a bundle of information that travels with him everywhere he goes, from environment to environment, about diagnosis, or different therapy reports that we’ve had. Tools and tips and strategies that are useful for managing anxiety or chunking information in ways that make it easier for him to understand.” Tania
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.
- Find out more about the PSD Year 6–7 review.
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.
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.
- For ideas about supporting your child’s transition, see Primary to secondary school: making the transition.