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What do they need to know before starting secondary school?

(33 Posts)
WeAllHaveWings Sat 30-Jan-16 21:50:39

ds(11) starts secondary school in August. He is currently in P7 and appears to be doing ok and is happy at school, top group (along with 3/4 of the class so no real differentiation) for maths, reading etc.

He is in a large primary school (~85 pupils in P7), which has a catchment area covering a large deprived area. School as far as we have experienced and heard has a "very good reputation" so we were happy to send him there and he has always had very good reports. On hindsight I think it has an excellent reputation for pastoral care and a mediocre one for learning.

It is one of 4 schools feeding into a large Secondary. As we get closer to ds going to secondary school and meeting parents who have dc in secondary school we are hearing pupils from our school find the move from primary to secondary hard as they are not as prepared as other schools and its knocked their confidence. For example some maths hasn't even been covered.

Now I am really worried. Is there anywhere I can find details of what they should know before starting secondary so I can check ds has done it and if not take step to rectify before he makes the move?

WeAllHaveWings Sat 30-Jan-16 21:51:43

This in Scottish primary/secondary (and why its in Scotsnet!)

prettybird Sat 30-Jan-16 22:27:45

The secondary schools are very good at coping with a range of different primaries. Don't fret yet.

TheTroubleWithAngels Sat 30-Jan-16 22:46:20

4 feeder primaries is really quite small.

I have P7 this year. They are quite a bunch (!) and I'm really working on their basics in numeracy and literacy.

Most maths teachers I know are quite happy if the children are confident in their basic number skills. It's easier to teach to build on a solid foundation than trying to fill in the gaps caused by throwing the TeeJay book at them after Easter.

Does he have a good understanding of number? That goes all the way back to what he should have learned in P1: that 6 is ****, * and and ** and * etc. Times tables are absolutely vital in this. If he understands times tables, he'll be able to multiply and divide. The same goes for the basics of time and measurement.

TheTroubleWithAngels Sat 30-Jan-16 22:50:14

Argh, my asterisks have eaten each other. I do know that 2 and 1 = 3 and not 6, just to clarify grin

Superjaggy Sat 30-Jan-16 22:52:48

I agree with Angels about basic number work - how to add, subtract, multiply and divide mentally and in written form. I'd also add units of measurement and conversions between them (1km = 1000m, etc), recognition of 2D shapes and 3D objects, and how to interpret bar graphs, pie charts etc. There's a great website called mathsrevision.com which sets out really clearly what children should be learning at the end of 2nd level, which is by the end of p7 for most children.

Superjaggy Sat 30-Jan-16 22:53:30

Sorry, I see Angels had already mentioned measurement and time smile

dementedpixie Sat 30-Jan-16 22:54:45

Dd found they covered a lot of stuff in the first year at secondary that they had done at primary (esp in maths). She is currently in first year. They did do a 2 day visit prior to the school starting so they got to know the layout, how things worked, etc

ouryve Sat 30-Jan-16 22:55:52

That their belongings won't magically follow them from room to room!

TheTigerIsOut Sat 30-Jan-16 23:24:11

I really think that there are only a few things they need to learn:
- that the will need to spend more time working in homeworks
- that they feel confident traveling to and back from school on their own
- that they should take care of their belongings because nobody else will

What you need to learn:
- that contact with teachers will be no longer so easily accessible

WeAllHaveWings Sun 31-Jan-16 00:00:51

He has always been OK with maths as he enjoys it, knows time, times tables, shapes, angles etc he has been shown, OK with division/multiplying concepts but hurries to finish first and makes mistakes. He hasn't mentioned bar charts so will ask about that. An example I was given was multiplying fractions?

Homework will be a shock as he has had absolutely no homework in P7 as his teacher doesn't agree with it.

We are working hard on being responsible for your own stuff. smile

I'll also check out that website which sounds good.

TheTroubleWithAngels Sun 31-Jan-16 09:27:52

Hmmmm, I wouldn't say multiplying fractions is essential at all. I remember being taught that in S2!

Here I go again about basics, but I wouldn't be going anywhere near multiplication of fractions without a completely solid knowledge of fractions (and bog standard multiplication and division). There is so much to cover- equivalent fractions, simplification, fractions as decimals etc- that is too important to rush.

Who was it who told you this, OP?

MrsJayy Sun 31-Jan-16 09:33:58

They all just bumble along for a few weeks anyway nobody knows what they are doing mine went to a 6 feeder high school so big intakes your son will have transition days in may\june he will be given work to his ability op he IMO doesn't need to do anything

MorrisZapp Sun 31-Jan-16 09:40:10

Totally what Mrsjay said. In my day we just 'went to school' and the parents let the teachers worry about the small print.

As long as the boy is cool with getting himself around, has a decent friendship group etc I'm sure the teachers can sort out where he should be with his maths.

Will the school be quite far away? Is he going to be getting the bus?

dementedpixie Sun 31-Jan-16 09:52:29

Dd's homework has been quite sporadic. Some weeks she has nothing and others she has a few pieces to do. They need to learn to time manage it - dd is of the 'put it off to the last minute' mindset and gers annoyed at being nagged at to do it. She has managed so far but will find it harder as they get more to do.

dementedpixie Sun 31-Jan-16 09:55:07

And dd hadn't been on a lot of visits they had as she had a placing request so was at more of a disadvantage than the kids from the feeder schools. Just about everyone from her primary went there though as it is closer and easier to get to than the catchment school confused (there were about 60 children that had placing requests to go there )

TheTigerIsOut Sun 31-Jan-16 11:39:51

Secondary schools will allocate some time to assess new students' level before they are placed in different ability sets. So I really don't think you need to worry too much about the academic side at this time.

It is working in their confidence and independence that is important at this time. Going into big school is quite a big shock to the system, so I would say that the main focus when it comes to preparation for secondary school should be in helping them to be more mature and feel more confident to face the challenge.

The head teacher of DS' school pointed out, repeatedly, that all children will struggle and certainly have a good cry at home before the October half term. Some will because they find it difficult to keep up with so many classes, groups or different teachers, some because they struggle to keep up with their perfectionism, but all of them will be ok once they have settle down. smile

MrsJayy Sun 31-Jan-16 12:03:40

Yep concentrate more on the resilience side both of mine were different DD was well past 12 when she went was settled by the September weekend dd2was just 11 and struggled but was fine by October

howabout Sun 31-Jan-16 15:44:03

I have an S2 and S3 who went to the local primary with the great pastoral rather than the great academic reputation. They were both top 3 or 4 of their own school and cope fine mixing with the other school. I think you would only have a concern if they were bottom to middle of their current cohort.

Confidence is key and also giving them a sense that they are just as good as everyone else. There can be quite a lot of peer pressure not to show up the DCs from the "best" primary.

dementedma Sun 31-Jan-16 15:52:01

Mine sent to a semi rural high school which has multiple feeders,some only sending one or two children from outlying areas. He was the youngest, only 11.5 and not 12 until the following January and he found it very hard to settle.
Agood secondary will do lots of primary engagement beforehand, school visits etc, and should have a good website you can look at together. Make yourself know to the guidance team beforehand if you have real concerns - they were brilliant with Ds - and see if there is a buddying system in place.
Your dc should have some independence skills: be used to getting public transport, know where and when the buses go from and to, how to use a pre-paid card - many schools use them for lunches etc- not be afraid to ask for help.

OneMagnumisneverenough Sun 31-Jan-16 16:16:22

Sounds a similar situation to the one when my two went to High School. Mine didn't go to the catchment high but later heard from a parent who's child did that the Maths teacher had said that none of the children from our primary had reached the level (or covered of the appropriate material) in Maths. When I asked my son if they'd said anything about that to him at his school, he said yes they had but he'd already caught up so hadn't bothered to mention it.

I am sure the schools are well used to dealing with a diverse range of abilities as well as children who haven't covered everything they should have.

High schools usually liaise with the primaries in their catchment to continue on particular topics from primary - this is where mine lost out as they had done different topics in their catchment area. Wasn't too much of an issue though and at S4 and S3 currently they are both doing well.

I think the advantage they did have having gone to a more deprived primary was a greater awareness to spot, and ability to deal with, trouble. Their radar in that regard was highly developed but they did the opposite and went to a high school with less disruptive influences than their primary.

dementedma Sun 31-Jan-16 16:33:27

Ds went to a secondary out with his catchment too. They had done French in P7 and he was put in a first year who had all done German! The school were very understanding when we contacted them and moved him into a French set. Liaise with eh school as much as possible. They want happy first years, not miserable ones and will appreciate any issues being raised early.

ttlshiwwya Mon 01-Feb-16 11:17:31

I'd ask (either the primary or the secondary) for details as I know all the feeder primaries for my DCs secondary (South Lanarkshire) had a list of topics to be covered for certain subjects (notably Maths, Science and French) to ensure a more level playing field.

For my DCs, it was most important for Maths as they set for S1 based on a standard maths test performed in primary school. Although the sets were fluid and the first 3 sets cover the same curriculum albeit at different paces.

There were no sets for Science/French until S2 but my DD said it was obvious that some schools were farther ahead than others at the beginning of S1 but it tended to even out by S2.

OneMagnumisneverenough Mon 01-Feb-16 11:24:16

Our High school doesn't do setting. The only bit has been in S3 where those that were definitely going to be aiming for Nat4 Maths rather than Nat 5 were pulled to make a group. Everyone else is just mixed together for everything.

It's funny how all the schools do things differently.

prettybird Mon 01-Feb-16 12:31:54

At ds' school, they set Maths after the September weekend, having done some tests and work for the first 6 weeks of S1.

They set English after the October Week as it's a more subjective assessment.

As far as I can make out, those are the only 2 subjects that are set, even in to S4. However, there is a degree of filtering/sorting that goes on just by the combination of subjects that people choose.

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