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ISPCC offers advice to parents with children starting secondary school.

Aug, 2017
The ISPCC has today issued some advice to parents on helping young people to deal with the transition from primary to secondary school.   
The end of August  brings with it the “back to school” feeling. School books are bought and children have been measured for the uniforms they have outgrown during the summer. It is an exciting time but for some it can bring new challenges, especially the thousands of children are embarking on the move to secondary school.

ISPCC Interim CEO Caroline O’Sullivan said “Children who are used to being with one teacher and an established group of friends for a number of years can find it unsettling to now be in an  environment where they will have daily contact with a number of teachers, and also have to cope with a whole new curriculum and subject choice. While the majority of children adapt well to the new changes, some children can find that their organisational skills and confidence are tested to as they negotiate the new school environment.

“The move to second level education brings a host of new opportunities for young people, both in terms of making new friends and exposure to a range of new experiences. However, it is a reality that certain young people become vulnerable to a reduced school attendance or dropping out of education altogether around this time. The ISPCC is keen to emphasise that with the right supports the transition to Secondary school can be a positive and enriching experience for young people and the risk of difficulties can be greatly reduced”.   

The advice from the ISPCC to parents is:

Support your child through talking and listening. If your young person isn’t happy with any aspect of the move to secondary school, the best support to give them is to let them know that they can talk to you and that you are there for them. Your young person will need someone to listen to them, and for you to reaffirm your pride in them, as they negotiate the transition and all its challenges.  

Prepare your child as much as possible for a smooth transition to the new school setting through planning in advance, for practical items such as the school uniform and books. It’s advisable to do a practice run of any new transport arrangements to the new school and talk through any other changes such as new after-school childcare arrangements that may be required.

Manage your own anxieties.  It is normal for parents to feel some level of anxiety particularly if the young person has experienced difficulties in the past, but it’s important to highlight the positives of this new experience, such as the opportunity to make friends and join new activities.  

Build confidence and self-belief through keeping the focus on the child’s strengths and achievements, even if the first few weeks don’t go according to plan. It is quite common for young people to experience some initial dilemmas as they attempt to make new friends and form a new peer group. It is best to maintain a calm approach and reassure the young person that this is all part of any move to a new environment.      

Seek further support if needed. While an initial period of adjustment is expected, a young person who is unhappy and reluctant to attend the new school needs to receive appropriate support to help them deal with the specific difficulties they are experiencing. A number of schools have individuals specifically trained to offer support to young people in difficulty such as a Home-School Liaison and School Completion Officers or the year head.

In addition to the support of their parents, young people often find it helpful to talk to someone else at this time.  The ISPCC Childline service is available 24/7.
How to get support from Childline:
By phone: Children and young people can contact Childline’s 24 hour phone service by phoning 1800 666666.
By text: Text the word: ‘talk’ to 50101, ‘bully’ to 50101 and ‘help’ to 50101
Log onto to access live web chat
You will find various items of support and advice for children and parents on and
The ISPCC also provides a helpline for parents or members of the public who may be concerned about a child and who need more information and support. This service is available Monday-Friday 9am-5pm.