Transition – The Next Step
Transition marks a period of time between experiences, movements or changes in a person’s life, such as, starting secondary school or college. Your transitions can be sudden or gradual and last for different periods of time.
Although transition is a time of change and can be both exciting and challenging, it can also be an anxious time for you.
All young people will go through a number of the following transitions:
- Starting Nursery School
- Separation from Parents
- Making Friends
- Starting Primary School
- Starting Junior School
- Changing Friends
- Change of Teacher
- Change of Head Teacher
- Changing School
- Moving to Secondary School
- First Exams
- Moving Through Different Year groups
- Advancing to College/University
- Moving to a New Home
- Moving to a New Area/Country
- Diagnosis of Illness
- Dealing with Bereavement
- Divorce/Separation of Parents
- New Siblings
- New Step-Parents
- Moving into Foster Care
- Entering Care
- First Sexual Experience
- Coming Out as Gay or Lesbian
- Living with the Illness of a Family Member
- Going Through Puberty
- Coping with a Long Term Medical Condition
We all experience different feelings when we contemplate change and the excitement and curiosity of change can be spoiled by feelings of uncertainty, anxiety and fear. These feelings are completely normal and it is important you ask for help and support.
Transitioning to Secondary School
Throughout life, you may find yourself going through a number of ‘transitions’ but it is usually when you begin secondary school and you move from the familiarity of your primary school into the uncertainty of unfamiliar places and people! Secondary schools are places of change and changes in the school environment can make you feel ‘wobbly’ and anxious.
- Classes are larger
- The school environment is much bigger
- No personal desks
- Teachers are subject specific
- You independently travel to school
- There is a greater volume of homework
- There is a need for greater organisational skills and meeting deadlines
- You have to make career choices at a time when you may not feel ready
Key Transition Anxieties
- Negotiating the way around school – you may get lost and this may result in being late for class
- Meeting new people
- Meeting new teachers
- Learning about the rules of the school – there are usually a lot!
- Learning the names of your new teachers and their expectations and styles of teaching
- Learning about the timetable and the appropriate books and resources required
- Carrying equipment around all day – no central place to return to – therefore increasing the chances of losing your things or not taking the correct stuff to your next class
- Coping with change determined by others not you
- Independently organising your work and managing your own timetable
- Coping with more physical PE and games lessons
- At break times there is less supervision from teaching staff
- Coping with new topics you have not studied before
- Concerns about bullying
Although all of the above anxieties are normal, try not to let them rule your life. Secondary school can seem scary for a while but you will soon settle down, make new friends and be able to find your way around. Most secondary schools usually have a Peer Mentor programme and the mentors are great to talk to and can help with many concerns.
Then, just when you feel you have settled into secondary school, along come ‘educational choices’! However, it is important that you see this period, not as something to be concerned about, but an opportunity to focus on your future and increase your independence.
A well thought out transition will ensure you have a successful start in life which is carried through into adulthood. It will also enable you to have a clear understanding of what opportunities are available to you – both during your school years and after the age of 18.
This is why asking for help is so important, as with the right support and guidance, many goals are achievable.
At the age of 16, you can legally leave school (at the end of June in the school year you reach the age of 16) and from here, you are usually able to make your own decisions about your future and what you would like to do. There are a number of Post 16 options available, such as:
- Staying at School– this can be a positive choice and provide many opportunities.
- Attending a College of Further Education– usually the next step after leaving school. There are a wide variety of courses available and they can be full or part-time. Many courses offer the opportunity to gain qualifications and improve skills and prepare young people for adult life.
- Specialist Residential Colleges– For a small number of young people who have learning difficulties and/or a disability, their local college is not able to meet their needs. If this situation arises, young people aged between 16 – 25 are able to attend a specialist college. Funding may be available for some young people and your Careers Advisor should have information about this.
- Employment– A small number of young people choose to enter employment as soon as they leave school. A Careers Advisor will be able to help with CV’s, interview and job-seeking skills.
- Training Programmes – There are a number of organisations which help young people find training opportunities. Some of these programmes can lead to a recognised vocational qualification and may help with deciding on a suitable career path.
Throughout all transition periods it is important to embrace your excitement and the opportunities it can bring, but to, of course, address your fears and anxieties. Experiences and challenges are great personal development. Yes, they can be scary, but this will help you to understand just how resourceful and resilient you are!