Life & Culture

Moving up? We've got some tips

Starting at a new secondary school next week? These kids were in your shoes this time last year


Anna Ebell, Henrietta Barnett School, Hampstead Garden Suburb

My top advice would be to keep organised and not to forget your books. I only figured this out properly half-way through the year, when I worked out which books I needed and when all my homework was due.

You shouldn't judge by first impressions and rule out possible friends.

I made friends with lots of people I didn't think I necessarily would."

Dylan Stephens, JFS, Kingsbury

● It's a massive school, but don't be intimidated because you'll get to know it soon enough. Make friends with other Year 7s and go around with them so if you get lost it won't be so bad. Also, if older students tell you there's a bowling alley or anything like that, don't believe them."

Samuel Travis, The Latymer School, Edmonton

● My advice would be to try really hard in the first few months. First impressions definitely count with teachers and, if you work hard and behave well in lessons, then the teachers will like you - and might be more lenient if you misbehave in future."

Jude Garcia, Immanuel College, Bushey

● They told us at the beginning that Immanuel is a leading school and they have high expectations, but they don't pressure you in any way or try to make you feel uncomfortable.

However, it does take time to get used to things. They give a lot of homework, so the most important thing is not to leave it to the last day because it can make you feel really pressured. Do the homework on the night you get it, or if it's too big for that, then do it at the weekend. Aim to get it done before the deadline so that you can check over it.

It seems scary at the beginning to go to secondary school, but in the end it's very welcoming and you make a lot of new friends. Although you might feel scared of going into a bigger school there's a lot more opportunities to do sports and arts and stuff like that."

Sebastian Hall, The Archer Academy, East Finchley

● There are a few things I wish I'd known before I started Year 7. They include the following:

The more you fret over homework or revision, the harder it gets. You shouldn't leave homework until the last minute.

When you get to your end of year exams, be prepared to give up your recreational time to revise. And if you forget your PE kit, you will still have to do PE!"

Joshua Claret, Yavneh College, Borehamwood

● My top piece of advice would be, if you know anybody, including the older siblings of your friends, ask them questions.

Like, let's say you don't really know your way around the school, tend to not ask Year 11s that you don't know, because they'll probably send you to the wrong classroom. So just ask people that you kind of know, or ask Year 8s instead of Year 11s if you don't know where you are or if you're lost."

Ella Downs, JCoss, East Barnet

● At first it was very nerve racking but as you get into the first few days and see how it all works it's fine. You get used to it and so aren't nervous anymore. The hardest things were probably just finding the classrooms and getting used to the homework.

In the first week, we had to take a lot of stuff around and try not to forget things. It's a bit hard to find all the right rooms in the first week, but you can always ask the teachers.

I think sometimes people say secondary school is scary. Maybe in the first week, but you soon get into the routine of it."

Jamie Gordon, Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' School, Borehamwood

● Settling in wasn't that hard because out of my class, most of the people were new so nearly everybody was also settling in, which made it quite a lot easier.

Getting used to the school and how it works took a couple of months- finding my way around, getting used to the homework and going from state school to private school, the homework amount is quite challenging.

Getting your homework done at lunch really isn't such a bad idea because a few of your friends will probably be doing the same thing. You just need to set out a routine for how you do the rest of your homework when you get home.

"For me that's doing what I want until I have dinner, about 45 minutes after I get in. Then I go up to my room and do my homework so that I can relax once it's done. Also, you should try and get the quick and easy bits done first and then do the longer, harder ones.

Sophie Seitler, King David High School, Yavneh Girls, Manchester

● It's quite scary moving to high school. But but be prepared to listen and don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it. My school has a fantastic 'buddies' scheme where older girls look after new girls. Don't be cocky - you want to make friends and for people to think well of you. And be organised. Have a folder for each subject as it helps just making sure you carry round the things you need. Keep your locker organised, too. After being used to a desk it makes life so much easier. Good luck!'

Ella Gonen, Highgate School, Highgate

● Before starting year 7, I was naturally anxious about starting a new school. Here are a few words of wisdom I can offer from my experience.

First, do not panic! You will start making friends faster than you think.

Second, make sure you make the most of the new opportunities such as trying new sports or joining a new club.

Third, be organised. There is a lot to take in during the first few weeks. It helps noting tasks and deadlines.

Fourth, yes, there will be more homework compared to year 6, but it is manageable. Do as much as you can on the day it is set and if you don't finish it, plan ahead to complete it well in advance because you might miss the deadline.

Last, do not forget to have fun! You will learn new subjects, meet new people and face new challenges. Most of your classmates will be in the same position and will be looking for friends, advice and support, just like you."

Joshua Gross, Yavneh. College, Borehamwood

● I am autistic and dyspraxic and found the transfer to secondary very challenging. The average day for a Year 7 starts with a 30-minute form period and in most schools the form tutors are there to help people like us.

My form tutor took my problems into consideration faster than anyone else's and really helped me during this first year.

A hundred and fifty kids is quite daunting - especially when you are a bit different!!! Lessons are around 55 minutes and there are normally six per day. The timetables will work on a two-week cycle and per week we have around six to eight Jewish studies/Ivrit lessons. In the lunch hall, it can be extremely chaotic or it can be quite quiet. My school has a badge system so you can only go in year by year, which makes sure it is quiet and calm. You can also get things like lunch passes that allow you to skip queues if you aren't very good in queues.

Don't worry too much about finding friends. We all find our way in the end. I found about 10 great friends who like me for being me and not because I can give them something. Trust me, you will be fine after the first few days."

Chaim Ostreicher has just finished Year 9 at Hasmonean High School, Hendon. His brother, Avi, 11, is about to start Year 7

● Listen to the rules, especially in the first year, so that you don't get a bad name for yourself and don't get too stressed over what [academic] sets you're in for Year 7, because they are not fixed and can be changed. The sets you are in are to your benefit to help you achieve."

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