Moving to a new school: handover

Coping with change

Changing schools: the handover

This section helps parents, carers and teachers to agree how to:

  • Prepare a child with ADHD for the handover between their old and new schools.

On this page:

  1. Preparing for new routines ↓
  2. Preparing to meet new faces ↓
  3. Handing over to a new school ↓

Preparing for new routines

A structured and regular routine is central to success at school and it is important to plan ahead for the changes that a new routine will bring.

Children with ADHD are often disorganised, and may be less accepting of change. This is particularly true when leaving a junior or primary school at 11 or 12 years old to move to a high or secondary school.

Typical changes may include:

  • A new timetable, which can change more quickly over time
  • New surroundings, involving moving between many different classrooms and having several different teachers every day, which make a consistent routine difficult to manage
  • More and varied subjects
  • Increased homework demands, which may impact on home routine.
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Preparing to meet new faces

While the child is getting familiar with the new routine and school they also have to form new relationships with teachers and other children. These early days may present confusion and uncertainty for the child, for example: 

  • Teachers and other staff misunderstanding ADHD
  • Discrimination and bullying for being ‘different’
  • Fears about the new school and what will happen
  • Initial popularity by being ‘fun’ followed by isolation when their behavior annoys.

The new teacher can help the child to fit in to the new school and introduce them in an open and friendly way to the other children. One suggestion is to develop a welcome pack.

  • New school welcome pack, children with ADHDProvide a description of the school
  • Describe the timetable and new lessons
  • Involve other children to provide content and artwork
  • Give an overview of the typical day possibly using a story board or cartoon. 
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Handing over to a new school

Good communication between parents and the school is key in preparing the handover, for example:

  • Establish a point of contact for all communication with the new school
  • Request regular feedback and agree how it should be provided – phone, email, text, meeting
  • Ensure that the school is aware of conditions commonly associated with ADHD, such as Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) and Autistic Spectrum Disorder
  • Emphasise the need for a regular daily routine to successfully manage your child’s behaviour in school
  • As soon as appropriate, provide information to the new teachers about what works for the child
  • Make sure that all the experience gained at the previous school is communicated to the new school.

This tool brings together some of the areas you may, as parents and carers, want to share with the new school.

Parent’s handover

A tool outlining the areas you may, as parents and carers, want to share with the new school


These discussion guides help teachers, parents and carers to agree how best to prepare for the school handover.

Preparing for the school handover (for use by parents)

A discussion guide to help parents and carers agree with teachers how best to prepare for the school handover


Preparing for the school handover (for use by teachers)

A discussion guide to help teachers agree with parents how best to prepare for the school handover


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Coghill D, et al. Child Adol Psychiatry Mental Health 2008; 2(1): 31.

O’Regan F. How to teach and manage children with ADHD (2010). Nottingham, UK: LDA.

These materials have been produced with practical advice and guidance provided by the expert European ADHD Awareness Taskforce.