10 tips to help new high school students make the best of 2024 back-to-school life

As students across Australia prepare to transition from primary to secondary school, these 10 tips to start high school may help.


Moving from primary school to high school is a significant step in a student’s education.

With the 2024 school year kicking off for many students around Australia in the next fortnight – and today for students in Queensland – there’s still time to take some simple steps to help make the transition a smooth one.

More than 50,000 NSW students set to start high school this year

In New South Wales, the state’s Education Secretary Murat Dizdar says about 53,000 students will start Year seven from 30 January.

“I wish the Year seven class of ’24 a fun and engaging year of learning and wellbeing growth,” Mr Dizdar says. “Starting high school is such an important transition point in our students’ education journey. Every day at school matters to the educational and life outcomes of our young people. We ask families to support our schools and ensure their children develop good attendance habits.”

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Nerves are natural, according to experienced principals, but getting organised for high school in the school holidays can help students and their families with the ‘butterflies’.

Renee George, relieving principal of Birrong Girls High School, says families could practise the public transport, driving or walking routes to school.

“Ensure your new Year seven student knows the travel arrangements and the correct train, bus or ferry to catch,” Ms George says.

Select a homework space with a desk or table where the Year seven student will study. Ms George recommends a place in the main family area where parents can support their children.

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Chifley College’s Shalvey Campus principal, Jenny Linklater, says it is important that parents “get to know their school”.

“Get uniforms ready and break in your new shoes,” Ms Linklater says.

Albury High School relieving principal Damian Toohey is a fan of holiday reading – although with just a few days left before Term one commences in NSW, students aiming to prepare themselves for the new school year should turn those pages.

“Picking up a great book for 20 minutes a day during the holidays helps students build their confidence and a strong habit for Year seven,” Mr Toohey says. “Year seven is a chance to form new bonds and build social skills. Parents can encourage students to mix and meet new people; it’s so important to form a strong school community.”

Organisation can help students stay calmer

A bit of familial support from the family fridge can help all school students – especially those starting secondary school – improve their organisation.

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“Ask your child about their bell times and timetable and display copies on the fridge. Add a blank calendar for activities, excursions, incursions and deadlines,” Ms George says.

Concord High School principal Victor Newby says learning organisational skills was important.

“High school requires a much greater level of organisation than primary school and many young people can struggle with this,” Mr Newby says.

Students cannot use mobile phones in NSW public schools and device use should be limited at home, so they don’t distract from homework and family time.

The night before school starts, support the Year seven starters to prepare their uniform, pack their bag and have their lunchbox and drink bottle ready for filling.

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“After a quick reminder they will have more teachers and classrooms than before, it’s off to bed for an early night and a good sleep,” Ms George says. “All your holiday planning will pay off in the morning.”

Top 10 tips for starting high school

  1. Purchase all supplies such as uniforms and stationery – break in new school shoes
  2. Practise public transport, driving and walking routes to school
  3. Encourage your child to be organised, set goals, seek support and be resilient
  4. Use the family fridge for timetables and important dates
  5. Choose a designated homework space for study
  6. Don’t let phones and devices interrupt homework and family time
  7. Pack the night before school starts and get a good night’s sleep
  8. Check in after school with open-ended questions about the day
  9. Reassure your child that their family and teachers are there to support them
  10. Remember, Year seven is a partnership between students, families and schools. Stay in touch.
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