Moving from early years to primary school

Moving your child from an early years provider to a primary school is called transition.

Children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) often find change difficult. As part of transition, educational settings and families must work together to create a plan for your child. The plan should be in place to help with any specific needs, strengths, interests and potential anxieties and learning styles.

The move should be part of a process, rather than a one-off event, allowing your child to feel confident and happy when the time comes.

Supporting your child

The phase transfer is important to your child's emotional wellbeing and achievements. The move can be full of excitement and anxiety for you and your child. You should keep an open conversation with your child which allows them to:

  • become familiar with the idea of moving on to school
  • have the time to talk about it the move with their family
  • absorb new environments and information
  • discuss their needs, wants, likes and dislikes.

Transition plans

Your child's key person will be there to support you in creating a transition plan with your primary school. A meeting will take place to make sure that your child gets all the support they need. Remember, you know your child best. Make sure that you share your thoughts, wishes, aspirations and the support you need. They know that sharing the information may feel difficult, but they are there to support you and your child.

Attending your meeting will be:

  • your child's new teacher
  • the school SENCO
  • your child's key person
  • specialist teacher
  • Special Educational Needs Inclusion Fund Practitioner (SENIF) who may also attend.

Transition dates

MonthsWhat will be happening
April to May

District planning meetings take place with Early Years and school SEN support and inclusion teams, including:

  • Portage management
  • SENIF Lead Practitioner
  • SEN Inclusion Advisers (previously known as the PEO team)
  • Specialist Teaching and Learning Service early years teachers
  • specialist nursery managers.

Learn more about these roles.

June to JulyTransition planning meetings will be held with the school SENCOs to plan the support for children and the school for those starting in September.
SeptemberFollow up meetings are held to ensure successful ongoing transition into school.

Find out more about transition plans and the process of phase transfers from early years to primary school:

Before they start school

There are some things you can do before starting school.

  • Start talking about school in a relaxed way so that your child can start to process the move from preschool to school.
  • Practice the school run during the summer holidays, this helps children to become familiar with the travelling to and from school.
  • Let them try on their new school uniform to help them feel comfortable in their new clothes, they may experience sensitivity to some fabrics or fastenings.
  • Use clear language and a commentary of what you are doing and what is about to happen.
  • Get spare clothes ready to take to school if your child is not fully toilet trained.
  • Teach children to flush the toilet and get used to different types of flush.
  • Chat about the importance of good hand washing.
  • Make sure your child can open their lunchbox and manage the food inside.
  • Read stories together about school.

Meeting school staff members

Getting to know new faces is important and it helps to calm any anxiety your child may have. There are some key staff members your child may meet in September.

  • A class teacher is responsible for teaching and the learning of your child. You will meet your child's teacher before they join the school. It's a good idea to get to know your child's teacher and how they can support them in the first year of primary school.
  • A teaching assistant mostly works with small groups of children as well as with individual children. This is managed by the school. Some teaching assistants may have additional training to become a higher level teaching assistant (HLTA) where they can cover and teach their own lessons.
  • The headteacher has overall responsibility for running the school. They report to the school's governing body, which includes a parent governor representative.
  • A nursery nurse provides support to teachers to help children with their learning, play and social development.
  • A SENCO is a qualified teacher who is responsible for assessing, planning, monitoring the progress of children or young people with SEND. Find out more about SENCOs.
  • A school nurse provides support for a variety of health issues and will refer to specialist services when needed. Learn more about the school public health service.
  • Find out more about other professionals you may meet.

With the help of Kent PACT and IASK we have put together some helpful questions to ask how your child's new school will best support them. Including questions about your child's health, education, and progress.

Read our helpful questions.

Additional help

For additional support during the transition visit the following pages:

If you are unhappy about the school named on your EHC plan

If you would like to discuss the school, college or provision that is named in the EHC plan then you can contact our SEND enquiries hub.

If you disagree with the setting or provision we have named you can appeal to the SEND Tribunal.