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Registrars: how to help children move schools now new joiner days are cancelled

two glasses of orange juice on a rug with sunglasses

Registrars at UK schools have sadly been forced to cancel ‘new joiner’ and induction days due to the extension of lockdown measures. The knock-on impact on children who are moving to new schools is increased anxiety around what is already a testing time. We’ve put together a list of eight ideas to help school registrars welcome their new joiners before September.

Moving to a new school is a huge deal, whether you’re starting reception, changing school mid-way through primary, or moving up into secondary school. It’s an enormous challenge for children and if it isn’t managed carefully it can lead to social and emotional developmental problems further down the line. More immediately, a poorly managed transition can lead to disruptive, unhappy children in class. Or withdrawn, socially isolated children who struggle to interact with their teacher or peers.

Children fear moving schools

What makes moving schools even more challenging this year is that many of the new children won’t have been able to visit the school at all in real life. Pity the parents who have to comfort their anxious children all summer as they wait for the new year to begin. Children will be worried that they don’t know their way around the school, that they don’t know teacher or pupil names and that they won’t have any friends. They might be worried about an increase in school work or the academic level that they’re expected to perform at.

Eight tips to help new students start at your school

With this in mind, we have reached out to our network of head teachers and parents in the Classlist community to create this list of eight activities to help registrars and school staff help new pupils.

  1. Invite new families to a school or year group summer picnic either on the premises or nearby. You can use Classlist to connect new parents before term starts and you won’t be breaking GDPR regulations – no phone numbers are shared on Classlist.
  2. Encourage parents to get involved with the parent association. Being part of the parent arm of the school helps the whole family more connected and settled quickly. See Six ways to get new parents to join the PTA here.
  3. Hold a ‘Meet the Teacher’ event on Zoom. Invite new pupils to a video call with their new teacher – in groups or individually depending on age. Invite them to ask any questions before the event in case some are too shy to speak up.
  4. Take the group of children on a video walk-around of the setting. Ask an older child to show them the playground. You may well get an insight into a side of the school that you don’t yet know about! It also creates great marketing content you can use on other channels.
  5. Encourage parents to reach out to other parents using Classlist before the term starts. They’ll be able to find families in their class who live nearby. It’s the little things that really matter to children: they want to know what kind of school bag the children use, is Velcro allowed on shoes, do you have to buy the uniform shop’s school skirt or will the M&S version do? 
  6. Encourage your parents to ensure they have all the necessary uniform labels, sports kit and pencil cases filled with the right equipment. Not standing out from the crowd for reasons other than being new will really help.
  7. Parents should also be encouraged to contact their child’s form teachers directly if possible, at an agreed time. It’s all the more important after this disjointed year to talk face-to-face to the people who know most about these new children. It will also help calm parental nerves – meaning less time spent on the phone! Some schools use Classlist for more than parental engagement and encourage teachers to use it as a communication tool too.
  8. Keep listening and make sure your door is always open. The transition period lasts longer than the first week. Make it clear that it’s an ongoing conversation and that you are open to discuss persistent problems as the year progresses.  

The best goodbye

And as for saying goodbye to your current students? It’s hard to beat this Greatest Showman send off from Ormiston Sudbury Academy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cJ5xgd0BkSQ

We absolutely love this!

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Timma Marett