How ISPCC can help children make the leap from ‘big’ school to secondary school


Why schools need ISPCC’s Smart Moves programme

Big life changes can be exciting but they’re also daunting and the move from primary school to secondary school can be a tough one. ISPCC can help. Its Smart Moves programme is designed to facilitate this life transition, and it has received rave reviews from users.

Smart Moves is a free, resilience- and evidence-based programme for fifth- and sixth-class pupils. There is also a secondary school programme available, which supports young people as they begin their journey in secondary school.

The primary programme is teacher-led and includes 15 short lessons covering topics from friendship to problem-solving to sleep difficulties. The secondary programme provides a total of 24 lessons, each lasting approximately 30 minutes.

According to one educational professional, “it stimulated good conversations”, while another said that the programme was very easy to use and thought-provoking, adding that “it encouraged pupils to think about potential worries, problems and routes of support”.

“There are many areas covered in the programme that both students and teachers had never considered before as part of the transition that are really important,” said a teacher, who added that “the length of programme is also a hit, we have found in the past that a little work in sixth class at the end of the year is not enough.”

For the students themselves, completing the Smart Moves programme was an overwhelmingly positive experience and they would recommend that other schools get involved in it. One sixth-class pupil said, “it made me feel more prepared by talking about my feelings and other people’s feelings”.

Niamh Clarke of ISPCC says that: “Smart Moves is based on the resilience framework and looks to build lifelong coping skills for young people. Having resilience does not mean you will not face challenges. However, it gives ability to endure these challenges and bounce back.”

The programme’s resources will be sent directly to each school at the start of the 2024/25 academic year: they include a manual for the teacher as well as a private booklet for each student in which they can explore their thoughts and feelings during each module.

ISPCC has also launched an Irish-language version of the programme for primary schools.

For more information on the supports ISPCC offers to children and young people, please go to

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