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Changing schools

publication date: Apr 26, 2007

Moving house can be traumatic enough but when your child has to change schools too, it can can be even more stressful. On the other hand you may be staying put but feel the current school is wrong for your child. In either case, with a little forward planning, the transition can be made less painful.

The main thing is for parents to be confident about the change. If you are over-anxious that will transfer itself to the child. A child needs to feel included in the plans. Social integration is very important to children so new friendships need to be encouraged while maintaining links with old ones.

Checklist - the new school:
  • Ask the school for a copy of their prospectus, annual general report, and behaviour policy.
  • Arrange for official copies of your child's school records to be sent to the new school. This should be done automatically but it’s advisable to check.
  • Enquire how they introduce a new child into a class - for instance do they pair them up with another child? If they don’t find out if there is another pupil in the class who lives nearby so you might be able to introduce your child.
  • Find out about any school clubs or groups which might be available. For example if your child has been learning to play a recorder it would be a useful group to join.
  • Have a chat with the class teacher about what topics are currently being studied. The introduction of the National Curriculum means that all pupils have to cover the same subjects but they might be studying them at different times.
  • Check with the teacher what’s needed for different days - there’s nothing worse than turning up unprepared for games and being unable to join in. 
  • Establish how the school communicates with home: does the teacher send out notes about  activities or does she rely on pupils remembering? Does the head teacher send out a regular news update? Ask for the last couple so you will be informed about forthcoming events like a class assembly.
  • After a couple of weeks make an appointment with the class teacher to check that your child is settling in and to discuss any minor problems that may have arisen.
  • If your child has special needs talk to the class teacher and the special needs coordinator together.
 Checklist - your child:
  • If you are moving away from any area, you might like to arrange with the class teacher a little farewell party.
  • Allow your child to give his new address and telephone number to friends. If he has access to a computer, he might like to design a moving house card.
  • If you are changing schools because there was a particular problem at the old one - perhaps bullying or low achievement - be prepared for your child to have very mixed feelings, he may even be hostile to the change. Encourage him to talk about his feelings and explain why the move is necessary without decrying the old school too much. Remember he will probably want to keep in touch with friends there.
  • If your child is shy encourage him to smile at new faces and offer him a few conversational openers like “What’s the teacher like?” or “What football teams do kids support here?”
  • Encourage new friendships by having children back to play.