Our first day at school: now>press>play’s transition experiences

We know that for many school children in Year 6, the next few weeks will be a bittersweet time. There is bound to be excitement about moving on, but this is likely to be joined by a big dose of fear and trepidation about the first day at their new school.

There are lots of things you can do to make the transition a little easier for children. We even have an immersive Transition Experience specifically designed to address the issues that children are likely to face. In the spirit of new beginnings, the now>press>play team have dug deep to remember their very first days at secondary school — any of it sound familiar?

Jenni — Social Media Manager

The main memory of my first day at secondary school is being thrown into a noisy, hot, confusing building with more rooms and new faces than I could ever hope to remember. I come from a very small, remote village on the south coast which meant my primary school was really small, well minuscule, with just 50 pupils. More of an extended family than a school really.

Lunchtime was a real culture shock. We had only ever had packed lunches in our primary school but suddenly had so much choice. I ended up choosing pizza and chips, standard fare in an eighties school canteen. However it wasn’t until I got to the pudding stop that I saw people were getting money ready on their trays. This was when I realised what the £1.50 mum had left me on the kitchen table was for. Not knowing what to do, I told the person behind me that I was going to the loo, left my tray of tempting treats and made a dash for it. It was a very long and hungry afternoon…

Tilly, Chief Operating Officer

Picture of Now Press Play COO Tilly with a cutout image of a boy using Now Press Play.

I remember the summer holiday before my first day at secondary school. My tummy felt squirmish with excitement and tinged with the fear of the unknown. I was ready to leave primary school, everything suddenly felt too babyish and I wanted to be one of the big kids… but I wasn’t sure how big the other kids would be but I pushed the thought aside. I was a tiny scrap of a thing and a tomboy at that.

My mum dragged me into BHS to buy my school uniform. It felt funny putting on a shirt and blazer just to go to school. Then the argument began —  skirt or trousers?  I was dead set that there was no way on earth I would be seen dead in a skirt — I mean how was I going to run in one of those? Mum tried to persuade me that having both would give me a choice. “No way – I won’t wear it!” I clutched the trousers and stomped off towards the till.

I looked at myself in the mirror, black trousers, blazer (hmm, a little too large), tie and shirt and I was ready for my first day. I skipped to underground station and took the train to Edgware Road, all by myself! I felt so grown up. As I walked into the main foyer my mouth suddenly felt dry. I’d forgotten how big the building was and I gripped my bag a little tighter, I wasn’t going to let anyone see I was scared. 

As we all lined up I suddenly noticed that every single girl was wearing a skirt and I looked down at my baggy trousers and shirt tucked in and suddenly felt a bit sheepish, surely I couldn’t be the only girl in trousers, could I? I could see a group of girls looking at me and then they burst out laughing. Were they laughing at my trousers? I felt my face blush.

Alice, CEO and Co-Founder

Picture of Now Press Play CEO and Co-Founder Alice.

I vividly remember opening the letter which said I’d got into Burntwood School and bursting into tears. After all the stress of entrance exams, I’d got into my first choice school and I was so happy and relieved.
Six months or so later and on my first day of secondary school I wasn’t feeling nearly so joyous.
 Leaving primary school had been traumatic. After our leaver’s assembly, I remember most of Year 6 staggering around the playground in tears, signing each others t-shirts and hugging.
 That whole summer I couldn’t quite relax. I couldn’t imagine what my life was going to be like come September and I just wanted to do Year 6 all over again.
 My main memory of that first day is sitting in registration and hearing a long list of names read out: Zohra, Simone, Yasmin, Kaylah, Sarah, Tanya. The list went on and on. How was I ever going to remember all these names and all these people?
 It definitely took me a good few months to settle in at secondary school but I soon made very good friends, many of whom are still my closest friends. Burntwood shaped my friendships but it also shaped my outlook too. Without me realising it, the school’s strong multicultural and feminist ethos moulded the way I look at the world, and I’m so grateful that it did.
 For those of you starting secondary school this September, hang on in there. It might take a few weeks, months or even a couple of years to settle in but eventually you will find your place and your people.

Why not tell us all about your first day and share your school photo on Twitter using #schoolmemories?

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