- English Language Teaching
- Language Learning
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Starting secondary school is a significant milestone for any child. Moving from a relatively small primary school to a much larger school will inevitably bring many changes and these can be both exciting and daunting. Your child is bound to have many questions and concerns, and the best way you can support them through the transition is by helping them to understand what to expect and preparing them as much as possible.
On the practical side, starting secondary school represents a change in routine and a shift in responsibility. Your child may have to get them self to school on time, they will have different teachers for different subjects, and they will be given more homework. You can start to prepare your child for these things early on.
On the emotional side, your child is going to be pushed out of their comfort zone. Most children will have been confident and happy in Year 6 at primary school, where they were a big fish in a small pond. Now they will be surrounded by hundreds of new faces in an unfamiliar setting.
How to prepare:
Homework is intended to reinforce or build on what has been learned in class. It is most useful for your child to complete the homework while the lesson is still fresh in their mind.
You will want to support your child as best you can, but it is important that you also start to help them to become an independent learner.
Try to encourage good habits, for example:
When it comes to completing the homework, ask your child to tell you what they have got to do or read the task out to you. Ask them questions to ensure they understand what is required and give them the opportunity to ask for your advice. Over the first year, you should expect to see them gradually become more confident in this area, requiring less and less input and guidance from you.
Make sure you have a great range of books at home that will support help your child complete homework tasks more easily.
Practical ways to support learning at home:
Key Stage 3 starts in Year 7. Some schools teach KS3 over three years, whilst others teach it over a shorter period so that they can begin teaching for GCSEs in Year 9.
There are no formal exams at the end of KS3, however, it marks the start of your child’s secondary education and is an important stage in terms of laying the foundations for GCSEs and beyond.
The new national curriculum for KS3, introduced in September 2014, is generally more demanding than the previous one, especially in the core subjects of Maths and science. This is to ensure students are better prepared for the transition to Key Stage 4 and their GCSEs.
The old attainment levels that were used to assess progress have now been removed. Schools must put in place their own assessment systems to ensure individual students are progressing and have an appropriate level of knowledge and understanding.
At Key Stage 3, the compulsory national curriculum subjects are:
Tips on supporting specific subject areas at home:
During KS4, most students work towards national qualifications – usually GCSEs.
GCSE qualifications are about to undergo changes. These will take place over three years, with the first of the new qualifications – GCSE Mathematics, GCSE English Language and GCSE English Literature – being taught in schools from September 2015. The first exams will be in June 2017.
The purpose of the changes is to make GCSE qualifications more challenging and better prepare students for further education and their careers beyond.
The National Curriculum subjects for Key Stage 4 are:
Schools must also offer at least one subject from each of these areas:
The main changes are:
Most students think that revision is about making sure they know stuff. This is important, but it is also about making sure they retain that stuff over time and can recall it quickly when needed.
Experts have discovered that there are two techniques that help students recall relevant information quickly and consistently produce better results in exams compared to other revision techniques. Helping your child to apply these techniques will ensure have all the relevant knowledge at their fingertips in the exams.
They simply need to: test themselves on each topic as many times as possible; leave a gap between the test sessions.
Here are three essential revision tips to share with your child:
1. Use Your Time Wisely
Allow yourself plenty of time and try to start revising at least six months before your exams – it’s more effective and less stressful.
2. Make a Plan
Identify all the topics you need to revise and plan at least five sessions for each topic. A one-hour session should be ample to test yourself on the key ideas for a topic. Spread out the practice sessions for each topic – the optimum time to leave between each session is about one month but, if this isn’t possible, just make the gaps as big as realistically possible.
3. Test Yourself
Methods for testing yourself include: quizzes, practice questions, flashcards, past-papers, explaining a topic to someone else, etc. Don’t worry if you get an answer wrong – provided you check what the correct answer is, you are more likely to get the same or similar questions right in future!
It may seem obvious, but if your child is fit and well, their brain will work more efficiently (aiding revision) and they will be better equipped to cope with the pressure and stress of exams.
Encourage them to take regular exercise. Physical activity increases oxygen to the brain, releases endorphins and will give them a break from revision.
Make sure they are getting enough sleep. Not only is it important for them to ‘recharge their batteries’, but many studies have shown that going to sleep after trying to learn something has a beneficial effect on memory.
Your child is likely to get a better night’s sleep if they work with their ‘body clock’. A teenager’s ‘body clock’ is different to those of young children and adults. They are more likely to feel awake and alert if you allow them a moderate lie-in (a couple of extra hours in bed) than if they get up at the crack of dawn.
Finally, help your child to feed their brain. Make sure they eat plenty, drink lots of water and eat a well-balanced diet.
The main source of exam stress is fear of failure and this can have a very negative impact on performance. It’s a vicious circle. If your child dwells on the consequences of not doing well, the thought of exams will become even more terrifying, shaking their confidence and magnifying their nerves further.
Encourage your child to replace any negative ideas with more productive ones. Remind them that the exams are an opportunity for them to showcase their ability and all the hard work they have put in over the past few years!
A practical approach to tackling stress is get organised and put a revision plan together. Once your child has done this and revision is underway, they will feel a lot more in control of the situation, which will help to alleviate some of their anxiety.
You can also talk to your child about strategies for coping with nerves:
A levels are the most popular qualification at Key Stage 5 and the most common entry qualification for higher education.
The Government has started to implement changes to AS and A level qualifications in the same way as they have at GCSE.
The main features of the new qualifications are:
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