Secondary Transition: from Key Stage 2 to Key Stage 3

by Anita Naik

As we approach the end of the academic year, one of the significant transitions for pupils is moving from Key Stage 2 Primary school to Key Stage 3 Secondary school. If you're unsure of what to expect from the workload, to how lessons are taught, here's what you need to know.

What is key stage 3

Key stage 3 is the first three years of secondary school - years 7 through to 9. After this, it's key stage 4, which is the GCSE curriculum. During key stage 3, all pupils study the same subjects to choose subjects for key stage 4.

The subjects are Maths, English, General Science (sometimes the single sciences), Geography, History, a language, PE, Drama, Music, Religious Education, Art, Computing, Design and Technology, Personal, Social, Health, Citizenship and Enterprise education.

Is key stage 3 a heavy workload?

It's different rather than heavier. The timetable is fuller than primary school, so only core subjects (those you have to take for GCSE in Year 10 and 11) - English, Maths, Science and a language are taught every week. The rest run over two weeks.

What else does my child need to know?

Teachers can be less nurturing as you move away from having one teacher to having a teacher for every subject, each with their own expectations and ways of teaching and setting homework.

Don't worry though, year 7 is a gradual process of helping you to make the transition to a new way of working. Moving away from facts and being told what to write, towards independent thought.

The top 7 processes that will help with secondary transition

1. Revise Year 6 work before you start year 7.

No one wants to revise in the summer holidays, but this year with no SATs and homeschooling, there's been a considerable gap in knowledge. For this reason, it pays to look over the maths and English work you have done this year and familiarise yourself as you will be going over this again in the first term of year 7.

2. Get used to revising topics as you go in core subjects.

Revising as you go is a big one for secondary school. Due to the scope of subjects and topics you will be studying; it pays to go over what you have learned regularly. Aside from helping you when exam revision comes round, it's a great habit that will see you through GCSE, A-level and undergraduate level work.

3. Go beyond the work you do in school

Instead of waiting to be told what to read, widen your horizons with subjects. Listen to podcasts, watch documentaries and read the newspapers to expand your knowledge base. For example, if you are learning about the sugar trade in Geography, read more on globalisation today and the trade triangle. If you're studying the impact of religion, read the papers to see how it affects politics today.

4. Ask for help from teachers, and tutors.

Get used to speaking up in class. If you don't understand something, ask for clarification. If you feel shy, approach the teacher after class or by email. Ask your teacher what you can do to improve levels (developing, secure, mastering) and also improve sets (many core subjects are set after the CAT exams in the first term).

5. Get used to end of term tests and mid-term tests.

The constant testing environment can feel exhausting when you first start secondary school, but it works to your advantage, making you study as you go and giving you the chance to move levels and sets.

6. Understand what your teacher/exam question is asking of you.

Going back to how tests and exams are worded (especially when SATS haven't happened) can be challenging. So don't be afraid to say you don't understand when something is asked in class or within your homework and ask for extra help around exams.

7. Keep reading.

Reading often takes a back seat at secondary school as teachers leave what you read and how often you read up to you. Even if you aren't a big lover of books, it's more important than ever in key stage 3 to push yourself to read more challenging reads to help improve your literacy overall. Something you will need in key stage 4 when approaching a wide variety of GCSEs that call for good essay writing and literacy skills.