Making the change from primary to secondary school can be a daunting time, both for your child and for you!

This guide is for you as a parent to read and share with your child to help you both prepare for the transition.

As a parent there’s lots of practical matters you’ll need to consider before the start of school and thereafter, not least getting familiar with the secondary schools in your area, do try and visit them all, they will all have open sessions with a host of useful information as well as a tour of the site.

Once you’ve decided you’ll need to apply for a place.

Dorset County Council has a webpage for your help and guidance, below you’ll also find useful information and if in doubt please contact the school office for assistance.

Applying for a secondary or upper school place!

You can apply for a secondary or upper school place from 1st September.

The closing date for applications is 31 October. Dorset CC will class any application or change you make after this date as late. This means they will not consider it until after the on-time round.

Dorset CC will let you know your outcome:

  • on 1 March if you applied on-time (before the 31 October)
  • on 31 March if apply late (between 1 November and 28 February)
  • from June onwards if you apply after 1 March

The following links will offer further help and advice:

Starting secondary school – BBC Parents’ Toolkit – BBC Bitesize

Before you apply:

  1. if you live in Dorset (not Bournemouth, Christchurch or Poole), and pay your Council Tax to Dorset Council, apply to us for a secondary or upper school place, even if you want to apply for a school in another local authority area
  2. check your local council area if you’re not sure which local authority area you should apply to
  3. read our parents’ guide for information about the different types of schools and how to apply
  4. read the admissions policies for schools you’re interested in; you can also find these on a school’s website
  5. check Dorset’s Local Offer for information on support for children with special educational needs and disabilities

Practical Tips

  1. Practice how they will get to school, buses, walking, alternative routes and problem solving (what to do if they miss the bus). Apply for a bus pass if needed.
  2. If you plan to drive your child to school, consider parking further away so that they can walk part way to boost independence and avoid congestion.
  3. Practice road safety so you know they’ll be safe if they are travelling to school on their own.
  4. If you consider your child as particularly vulnerable establish a key person in their new school that you can work closely with to help your child.
  5. Ensure uniform is correct and appropriate including footwear and hairstyles. Any questions or issues with regards to cost, contact school.
  6. Attend the Parent Induction Evening. This will tell you everything you need to know about your child starting at the school and how things work.
  7. Help your child take responsibility for their belongings before they start at secondary school. Are there lockers available for instance.
  8. Homework will likely be more prominent, if children are warned of this it can save confusion later.
  9. Understand the food provision at the new school – is it cashless, what food is on offer. If your child is on Free School Meals, know how it works and what is available.
  10. Ensure your child has access to their emergency medication and that school have the correct documentation with regards to their health needs.

Emotional Tips

  1. Parents do not panic – you may feel a loss of control. You may no longer drop your child off at school and wave at the teacher. Your child is becoming an adult, your anxiety will not go unnoticed by them.
  2. Seek out other parents in the same boat, you’ll soon gain comfort from shared experiences.
  3. Your child will make new friends but this may take time, be patient.  Remind them that everyone is in the same boat.
  4. Encourage them to join clubs and become involved in school life, this is an excellent way to make new friends.
  5. Ask your child how their day has gone and even if the information is scant it will help your child.