From Primary to Post Primary

Possibly one of the most memorable times in many people’s life was the move from primary school to post ptimary. For many people this is the first step of a long road of ‘growing up’ and independence. As such, it can also be a very worrisome and anxious time as many children move out of the familiar into the unfamiliar.

By the time most children reach 6th class they are itching to move on to the next level. They possibly have become familiar with ‘responsibility’ in measured ways through being given ‘jobs’ in 6th class, and also as the most senior class in the school. They have begun to think about joining the older students in post primary and many are excited to get there.

Other children view the change with apprehension and become anxious at the thought of not returning to the familiar surroundings of primary school in September. There is no way of knowing which way your child will go until they have to face the issue. However, there are some things parents can do to help understand which way their children are handling the change and to help make the transition as happy as possible.

The most important thing parents need to remember is that while we view our ‘6th class’ students as children, they are often times more resilient than we give them credit for. So, while we, as parents, worry about how they will handle the changes, our worry is just that – OURS.

By talking through the major issues with your child you can help reduce both their fears and yours. Some of the major issues that students face are the differences between the two schooling systems:

  • The variety of teachers
  • The changing of classrooms and moving around the school
  • The multitude of subjects
  • The number of people in their year (for some schools/students)
  • The changing of books for each subject
  • The amount of homework and the due date of work

This is just a short list of some of the challenges that face your young person on this next stage of growing up. To help them face them and manage them well, here is a list of some useful resources.

General Information for Parents

School has some helpful tips for parents

Citizen’s Advice (or here) is also a good source for information on post primary schools

Introducing Your Second Level School

Download the Introducing Your Second Level School Booklet. This booklet is a joint venture between the Association of Secondary Teachers, Ireland and the NPCpp.

From Primary To Post-Primary, A Parents’ Roadmap by John Stephenson

‘Helping you help your child’

Moving Up! is a new 96-page illustrated book for parents of children transferring to post primary schooling. Written in a clear and straightforward language by John Stevenson – a former Principal – and published by Booklink, Moving Up! is the indispensable companion for all parents embarking on the journey into secondary education with their children.

Order your copy by emailing

Junior Cycle Factsheets

The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) has put together a set of fact sheets which give information about the different subjects available in Junior Cycle (first to third year). While the fact sheets have been designed with sixth class pupils and first year students in mind, they will also be useful for parents.

In addition to this, they can be used by first year tutors and guidance counsellors in post primary schools and teachers of senior classes in primary schools. They can also be useful for school information evenings and open days.

The NCCA Subject Fact Sheets for the Junior Certificate can be found here.

Senior Cycle Curriculum

Senior Cycle students may take a variety of programmes, including Transition Year, Leaving Certificate (Established), Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme and Leaving Certificate Applied. Further information regarding many aspects of the Senior Cycle, including new subject outlines and transitioning from post primary to Third level education can be found at the NCCA website.