Kim McCabe writes about how not to feel small at big school and ways to honour this major transition

Tanya had just started senior school. She was nervous but excited at the same time. Lots of her friends from primary were going with her, although her best friend was going to a different secondary school. She’d had a trial day at the end of year six and met her form tutor and some of her teachers. They seemed okay. The school was big though — she was worried about getting lost, or being late for class because they moved to a different classroom for every lesson. The science labs were full of interesting bits of equipment and the sports hall was amazing. She’d got her new uniform and a new bag.

Half-term and Tanya was exhausted. School was tiring, so much homework and different subjects and it was noisy, but she knew her way around now and had made some new friends. There was one teacher, the art teacher that she really liked and she’d found out that she was really good at science. Her old friendship group from junior school had sort of split into two which was tricky because she had people she liked in both groups. Tanya was a bit shocked by some of the older children swearing and some of them smoked. She’d made a new friend, Katy.

The long dark days were giving over to spring and Tanya and Katy started going into town after school before catching a later bus home. They liked trying on clothes together but mostly they just liked the feeling of freedom. Tanya’s body was changing and she was more conscious of how she looked. The boys noticed her which she liked and she didn’t like. Katy was more developed than she was but hid it under baggy jumpers and had started skipping lunch at school.