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Where did all those primary years go?

At this time of year, many pupils are contemplating the biggest step of their school career - the transition from primary to secondary school.

They are soon to emerge from the safety of the Year 6 cocoon at primary school and metamorphose into Y7. But change is thought-provoking for the parents, too. Where have the years gone?

Going to "big school" is a scary thought for parents and pupils. The children go from being the biggest fish in a small pond to being the smallest fish in a large pond.

Welcome preparations have been made to ease the move. Secondary teachers have come to visit, pupils have been to see the new secondary school and parents have gone to transition evenings. However, nothing can alleviate the trepidation felt. Even the visits do not assuage the anxiety.

The pupil thinks what a big place the new school is, that heshe is bound to get lost, how they will miss their junior-school teacher and whether they will be bullied.

Girls worry about making new friends and whether they'll look good in their new uniform. The parents worry about the safety of their offspring and whether the good progress made in the primary school will be maintained.

Will their child be tempted to take drugs or be influenced by bad elements? All through the long summer holidays these thoughts come up.

Parents ponder the passing of the years, remember their child entering primary school and wonder where the time has gone. Conversations centre on whether their child will have major problems.

Pupils talk about the forthcoming experience to others. Mothers constantly exchange anecdotes with other parents and look at the school uniform in the shop window. The summer holidays are nearly over. Reluctant offspring are dragged to shops for that shiny uniform, new shoes, PE kit and school bag.

A tear is shed as the pupil tries on the uniform for the first time, despite parental grumblings over the cost. Hollow feelings are felt in the pit of the parents' stomachs.

The day has finally arrived and frantic preparations are made. The pupil will never look cleaner or tidier than they do today. It's nearly time for the goodbye. Just one last check that the child has a bus pass, followed by the final kiss and hug.

Then all is quiet. It's time for the parents to sob silently as their child leaves to become a fully fledged secondary pupil. And it's all over.

But soon it will be time to do it all over again as university looms and your child leaves home.

Jim Goodall is a retired science teacher from Torfaen

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