Transitioning to high school: Tips for success

For children, transition times are important as they are a stimulus for personal growth and development, but they do need to be handled with care or they can take a considerable amount of time and effort to overcome. We also need to be mindful of the very normal emotions of excitement and anxiety (or both!) which may be experienced. Each point of transition acts as a signal for children to adapt and engage with the events, people and surroundings they are immersed in. For adolescents, transitioning to high school is a key milestone and comes with significant change to their daily lives.

For parents attempting to examine whether a transition has been successful, it is important to maintain a long-term view. It is not just one event that makes the transition, so if there are a few initial road bumps I would encourage you to allow some time, while also utilising the support channels at the School to seek expertise and assistance where required.

As a School we believe that a focus on allowing our students to develop relationships and partnerships is critical in the success of our transitions, and a significant amount of work is undertaken to achieve positive outcomes. We undertake an extensive range of activities to assist our transitioning students.

There is a strong belief that if we lay the foundations for this period of change correctly, then the smoother the process can be. It does pay off in the long term if we invest in the program at this early juncture. From familiarisation to integration, new Senior School students can seamlessly become a part of a strong and inclusive community. Below I outline some of the processes at Guildford Grammar that help ensure a successful transition to high school.

  1. Early familiarisation
    Firstly, our Heads of House meet with new students and families before the start of the school year to allow them the opportunity to become familiar with their surroundings and ask questions about their new school. We have spent significant time planning the first week of the school year to ensure students will spend time with their Mentors, as they develop plans and goals for the year ahead. Student buddies are allocated for our new students in older year groups, and our Year 7 students meet their teachers at a central location and are escorted to each lesson. This results from a significant amount of communication, correspondence and guidance from our Enrolments team, who have been the main link for families up until the school year begins.
  2. Traditions and rituals
    Our first week of the school year is a special one as it includes a number of important traditions and rituals for new and existing students. Although these events may be either exciting or daunting in this first instance, they will soon become part of daily life in the School. New students in all years are presented in House groups in the David Lawe Davies Centre before a very heart-warming welcome service in the Chapel. The remainder of their first day is a mix of formal academic time, enabling students to get some ‘rubber on the road’ in terms of becoming familiar with the logistics of learning (teachers, classrooms, learning resources, labs and log-ins), and a welcome morning tea in each House to enable the seeds of relationships to be planted as the students mingle with their new housemates, young and old.
  3. Guidance and ongoing support
    At Guildford Grammar we understand how daunting the transition can be for students, the emotional element to the process and the unfamiliarity that change brings. We believe that with the right guidance, friendly people and mapped processes, we can ensure the start of high school life lays the foundation for a happy and healthy journey through the final years of schooling. Guildford Grammar School’s robust pastoral care network means that you child will receive the care they need during the transition to high school and beyond.

Knowing the challenges you are up against presents the opportunity to plan and reflect which has enabled us to implement the aforementioned transition plan. You can place your trust in the process and stand back to observe your child beginning to thrive at Guildford and Go Forward with purpose and passion.

If you’d like to learn more about how we support children during the critical stages of early adolescence, download our Catalyst Handbook. Catalyst, the middle years program at Guildford Grammar School, aligns with the early adolescent learning phase of development. Our program has been specifically designed to cater to the unique academic, social and developmental needs of students of this age.

Mr Brad Evans, Head of Senior School