A warning has been issued for children set to start secondary school next week.

Teachers have expressed serious concerns about pupils’ ability to transition from primary school to secondary school as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, a survey has found.

Around 80% of teachers are warning that incoming Year 7 pupils will be unprepared for secondary school, with particular concerns about their behaviour, English and Maths skills, and their ability to focus.

The YouGov survey, commissioned by GL Assessment, spoke to more than 1,000 teachers, with 75% saying they were concerned that last year’s Year 6 pupils would not be academically prepared for secondary school.

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Most teachers – 79% – said they thought Year 6 pupils would not be socially or emotionally ready to start secondary school, and seven in 10 teachers said their school was organising extra support for new Year 7 pupils to address learning gaps.

Six in 10 teachers said they were most concerned about pupils’ basic classroom skills, such as focusing on a task and following instructions.

The polling of 1,006 primary and secondary teachers also found that two-thirds of respondents said they doubted the reliability of the 2022 SATs tests in primary schools.

A fifth of headteachers were considering recruiting specialists or primary experts to help pupils address learning gaps.

Crispin Chatterton, education director at GL Assessment, said: “Schools are going above and beyond to tackle any lingering consequences of the pandemic.

“But we shouldn’t be under any illusions that this year’s transition to secondary school will be anything other than extraordinarily challenging for many students and teachers.”

Geoff Barton, general secretary at the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “The research findings show that school leaders and teachers, in both phases, have deep concerns for pupils making the transition this year, both in terms of the impact of the disruption to their learning and their emotional and social preparedness.

“This reflects what our own members have been telling us, particularly in relation to the pastoral support that leaders are finding huge demand for across all key stages.”

He added that the findings also highlighted the proactive work schools were doing to address these issues.

“It illustrates the determination leaders and teachers have for ensuring that these children have the best possible start to their secondary education,” he said.