Starting a new school

Being the new kid is never fun, so how do you overcome your fears to make friends and succeed at a new school?

Two school girls walk across an open field talking to each other.

Making friends at a new school can seem like an impossible task.

As summer rolls on and the days get chillier, it will dawn on you that you’ll soon have to face your biggest fear… moving to a new school. It’s natural to feel anxious about new faces, new challenges and new environments, but this change should be fun and exciting too! You’ll learn a lot about yourself. 

Help! I’m scared about moving school 

The leap from primary school to secondary school or from secondary school to college can feel huge. You may be worried: 

  • You won’t fit in 
  • Your workload will be too much to handle 
  • You won’t make new friends 
  • You don’t know what the teachers will be like 

It’s important to remember there will be others that are in the same boat as you. You can even talk to someone in your class about how weird being in a new school is. Think of it as a bonding session. 

How to prepare for the new school year 

To ease your worry about the year ahead, get yourself practically ready for your school year: 

  • Set your alarm clock and practice getting up earlier to get into a routine 
  • Get your school uniform ironed and ready 
  • Prepare the books you’ll need for next year 
  • If you have a sibling or friend already at your new school, ask them what it’s like 

As well as practical things to keep yourself calm during the summer break, remember to take time and relax. Read your favourite books, lounge around watching Netflix or hang out with your friends. 

What if I don’t make friends? 

Rocking up to the gates of your new school or college and thinking, “This is terrible, what if everyone’s awful, what if I’m awful and lonely forever…” is a feeling we’ve all had. Though it may not seem like it at first there are loads of ways to make new friends: 

  • Find out if anyone from your old school is moving to your school so you can be buddies 
  • If your old school mates aren’t moving with you, find ways to keep in touch with them so you don’t lose them as mates 
  • Join a club/activity at school to meet other people with a similar interest to you 
  • Talk to your classmates and find out more about them. You may have more in common than you realise 

I’m worried about my new workload 

Sometimes the stress of thinking about your workload can feel more intense than the workload itself. Try and prepare ahead by looking online to find out which topics and subjects your year will be focusing on. Remember, it’s meant to be a challenge, so don’t worry if you feel like can’t do it at first.    

Who can I talk to? 

No matter how you’re feeling about this new change in your life it’s important to talk to people about it openly and honestly. Rina Bajaj, a service manager at Place2Be, a charity offering emotional and therapeutic support in schools, says: “Talking to classmates initially can be a great way to think about how they might be feeling about the change, and that can really help.” 

“The chances are that other students will be feeling the same, so having a conversation will really enable young people to support each other in that change.” 

If you’re not ready to strike up a conversation with the person sitting next to you, try and speak to your friends, family or even an in-school support service, such as a school counsellor or peer mentor.  

Read this piece by Tutor House for advice on coping with anxiety about starting school.

Is there anything to look forward to? 

Of course! There’s so much to look forward to. Life is all about going on journeys, taking risks and being brave. Rather than dreading a new school, see it as an opportunity. You get to make new friends and learn new things. While it might be scary at first, with a little time and patience, you’ll start to feel at home. 

Next Steps

  • You can talk to Childline about anything. Call them for free on 0800 1111 or visit their website.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.


Updated on 11-Aug-2017

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.