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Preparing your child to start secondary school

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There are ways you can help and support your child when they start secondary school. Read the tips below to learn more.

We also have a dedicated information for students starting secondary school page. Read this with your child and talk about some of the things they can do to prepare for secondary school

If you are transferring to a different school our changing schools webpage has more information. 

How families can help their children


Establish a routine

Secondary schools have more subjects and teachers, so it is important for your child to get used to a routine, reading a timetable and time-management. 

How you can help:

  • establish a routine to help your child feel organised and build positive habits 
  • help your child become familiar with a timetable by displaying their daily routine somewhere visible. This could include the activities they do outside of school, such as sport or dance. 
  • teach your child about organisation and time-management skills. This will help them balance multiple assignments at once and build positive habits early. 

Teach your child to read a map 

In secondary school, your child will be responsible for getting to classes in different rooms on time. 

Most secondary schools are bigger than primary schools. Your child will most likely be given a map of the school showing the different learning areas, so they can find their way around. Of course, teachers will also be on hand to assist them and to answer questions.

How you can help:

  • Spend time teaching your child to read a map to help build their skills, so they can confidently navigate their way around their new school.  

Ensure your child attends transition days

Your child will be invited to attend transition days at their new secondary school. 

Transition days are important for your child to connect with other students, become familiar with their new school and make friends before they start.

How you can help:

  • Speak to your child positively about transition days and ensure they attend. Your child is more likely to look forward to starting high school if you are positive about it.
  • Speak to your child’s primary school if you have any concerns. 

Get involved as a parent

We know many families want to be a part of their child’s secondary school community.  

What you can do:

  • Attend information evenings, open nights and other ‘get to know you’ events that your new high school offers. If attending a school site, please ensure that COVID restrictions are adhered to at all times.
  • Ask your new secondary school about opportunities to volunteer.
  • Consider nominating for the school council or attending school council meetings as an observer.
  • Visit the school’s website and follow them on Facebook if they have a social media page. 
  • Download the communication apps your new school uses, such as DayMap and Skoolbag. Talk to the school if you do cannot access this technology.
  • Ask the school who your best point of contact is if you have questions or concerns about your child’s learning and wellbeing.

Visit the student page 

We have a dedicated information for students page. Read this with your child and talk about some of the things they can do to prepare for high school. 

Transition days

Secondary schools will offer transition and orientation programs to help year 6 students moving to secondary school to feel confident, welcome and ready for the new year. 

Transition programs are organised individually by our schools each year to suit their communities, but they all have an emphasis on forming friendships. 

Most secondary schools will hold transition visits during term 4. Many will offer other activities such as peer mentor support, family information night and camps. 

Transition activities may be impacted by COVID restrictions. It is important to follow the school’s advice. If you attend a school, it is important that COVID requirements are adhered to at all times. 

Your secondary school will still find ways to connect with your family and make your child feel welcome ahead of the new school year. Contact your local secondary school for more information.

Safety and wellbeing in secondary school 

Your child’s wellbeing is just as important in secondary school as it is in primary school.

Frameworks already exist in public schools to manage interactions between students of different ages. These already operate in our B-12, R-12, area and primary schools to manage younger children interacting with older students. 

Schools will provide dedicated wellbeing support to help year 7 and 8 students adjust to new routines and different academic demands. The support will vary across schools, so it's best to check with your new high school about how this will work. 

ICT and mobile devices

Purchasing a laptop or ICT device for high school

Secondary school students use devices like laptops and tablets to create content, research topics and engage in online activities.

Schools will communicate with parents about what device students will need to support their learning program and how these can be made available.

Many schools also provide details of lower-cost providers or device options that can be easily supported by the school.

If payment is likely to be an issue, discuss your individual circumstances with your school.

Using a mobile phone in high school

Students can bring mobile phones to school to ensure safety when travelling and so parents and students can contact each other.

Students must follow their school’s rules during the day.

While our primary school students cannot use phones during school hours, high schools have their own individual policies on when students can use them at school, if at all.

Ask your high school for a copy of their local mobile phone policy and read our using mobile phones and personal devices at school page.

School dress code

Uniform requirements for public schools

The department encourages schools to have a school dress code to help create a sense of community and ensure students are appropriately dressed for school activities.

Uniform policies are developed by individual school governing councils for the principal’s approval, in accordance with the department’s school dress code instructions.

Uniform policies should offer a choice of uniform options that are mindful of student diversity and gender expression. Governing councils also need to consider including financial strategies to keep costs low.

Talk to your school about their uniform requirements and potential cost-saving options like second-hand sellers.

Sun hats in high school

Schools must have a sun protection policy. Schools write their own policies, considering the advice that is available from Cancer Council SA. The policies generally encourage students to use sunscreen and broad brimmed hats.

Schools also manage their own policies, including any consequences for students who choose not to follow them. Secondary schools encourage students to take more responsibility for their own sun smart decisions.

Visit the sun protection in schools and preschools page for more information.

Getting to and from school on public transport

Visit Adelaide Metro’s travel to school page for more information on catching public transport to school and to access bus timetables.

Dedicated school services also operate in a number of South Australia’s regions and towns. 

Countdown to secondary school

Download these checklists for practical tips on preparing for and settling into high school.

Enrolment, Capacity and Transition Unit

Phone: 8226 3932
Email: Education.ECTU [at] sa.gov.au