Transition to Secondary School

Secondary schools admit children from the ages of 11 through to 16. This is known as Key Stages 3 and 4. If the school has a Sixth form, children will stay there until they are 18.

State secondary school applications – often made on line via the Local Authority - usually need to be made by the end of October in the year a child turns 11.  

Moving from Primary to Secondary School is a big event and change for any child, but if you have a child with SMA, the transition can be even more of a challenge as there is even more to think about. ‘Start early’ is probably the best advice. Talk to your child’s teacher and the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO) as they will have a good idea of what schools in the area can offer. Most schools will have open days you can attend the year before your child needs to apply for a place, so you should be able to get the answers to some key questions. If you think your child may become anxious or unsettled, you can do this initial work without them: 

  • Which schools are possible?
  • Do any of them specialise e.g. in arts or sciences
  • How would that fit with your child’s interests?
  • Revisit the questions you had when you chose a primary school. You can find the ones we suggest here.

You will then be in a good position to look at a shortlist with your child and have time to make visits, have discussions and make your application. You should have your place confirmed by the beginning of March giving your child’s current and new school time to plan a smooth transition.

In this shared experience, parents Doug and Sandra Morris talk about how they and Ben, who has SMA Type 2, managed his transition:

"By the time Ben was coming to the last week of primary school he had all but left: the summer holidays beckoned, the anticipation of secondary school was so enticing. Ben, school and we were ready."

Page last reviewed / updated: March 2021
Next review due: March 2022