Moving to secondary school for students with additional needs

 Our site also has specific information about different disabilities.

​​Moving from primary school to secondary school can be both an exciting and stressful time for your child.

Secondary school brings lots of changes, including:

  • new teachers
  • extra subjects
  • more classmates
  • different teaching styles
  • moving from classroom to classroom.

With help from you and the school, your child can feel supported and prepared.

Planning for secondary school

It’s a good idea to start planning for secondary school when your child is in year 5, or earlier.

Planning is important because it:

  • gives you time to find your designated neighbourhood school or preferred school
  • prepares your child for starting secondary school
  • allows your child’s primary school and new secondary school to share important information about your child’s needs
  • helps you find out what adjustments and modifications the school already has available
  • gives the school time to make new adjustments – or apply for funding – if needed
  • allows you to give assessments or medical reports to support funding applications, if needed.

The people involved in making your child’s move to secondary school as successful as possible are:

  • you
  • your child’s primary school
  • your child’s new secondary school
  • allied health professionals such as speech pathologists, psychologists and social workers.

How you can support your child’s move to secondary school

While your child is in year 5 some things you can do include:

  • talking to friends, neighbours and your child’s primary school about school options for your child
  • visiting school websites
  • bringing your child to school open days so you can both see what the school is like
  • meeting with principals
  • talking to your child’s student support group.

By the time your child starts year 6 you should have a good idea about what school they may attend.

At this stage, you’ll fill in the preference form the primary school gives you.

When your child is in year 6 you can:

  • enrol them in a secondary school
  • plan for orientation day
  • take part in student support group meetings
  • ask for a student support group meeting to take place during their first term in secondary school
  • meet with the principal to talk about your child’s needs
  • ask the principal if you and your child can visit the school the day before they start – so your child can find their new locker, bring their books and learn where their classrooms and bathrooms are
  • practise the transport route with your child so they become familiar with it.

What the primary school can do

Between year 4 and year 6 the primary school will:

  • start to talk to you about your child’s move to secondary school
  • gather any assessments and reports needed for your child’s year 6 to 7 Program for Students with Disabilities (PSD) review or a new PSD application – you may need to give updated medical reports to the school
  • submit your child’s year 6 to 7 PSD review or new application – if your child is eligible
  • invite staff from potential secondary schools to a student support group meeting
  • choose a transition coordinator to help you and your child prepare for secondary school
  • make sure you complete your child’s enrolment form
  • work with staff at your child’s secondary school to plan your child’s move
  • confirm dates for the student support group to meet in term 1 in your child’s secondary school
  • help create the best way to prepare your child for the move
  • create a document which contains important information for the secondary school about your child’s needs. This is called a transition statement.

What the secondary school can do

Moving to a bigger and unfamiliar school can sometimes be overwhelming for a child with disability or additional learning needs. Most secondary schools work with you and your child’s primary school to make your child’s move easier.

To help with your child’s move, the school will:

  • identify professional development for staff so they can meet your child’s needs
  • plan any reasonable adjustments
  • make sure they get information from the primary school, like your child’s transition statement
  • review the transition statement and set dates for student support group meetings
  • prepare plans for timetables, lockers, and consider access needs such as medication storage
  • develop your child’s learning and support plans
  • submit a new PSD application, if applicable
  • hold school tours and an orientation day.

School tours and orientation

The secondary school can give you and your child a tour of the school so they become familiar with it, see their classrooms and meet their teachers.

It also gives you an opportunity to ask the school how they support students with disability or additional needs, and how they may be able to support your child’s needs. Contact the secondary school to organise a tour.

All government secondary schools hold an orientation day on the second Tuesday of December. Like tours, this gives an opportunity to explore the school, see the classrooms and meet teachers and other students. You’ll also get an information pack with a map of the school and details about school staff.

Extra support for children with disability or additional needs in school

Schools may be able to get extra support to help their students with disability or additional learning needs. This may include help from specialist staff and support for high care needs.