Hagley, Stourbridge, U.K. – It is quite a daunting experience starting year seven in the UK. It’s the beginning of high school, and everything is usually much bigger than it is in primary school.
In my school, there are 200 students in each year, from ages 11 to 18.
Just a year earlier, you were the rulers of the school, enjoying your most powerful year. Suddenly, you are the year that gets lost in the first week, and nervously asks a judgmental 16-year-old where classroom S8 is.
I am beginning year 10, so I have some much-needed advice for you as you start high school.
The first couple of weeks will be extremely stressful. Teachers like to give every year a huge amount of homework, but it always is worse for certain classes. That includes Year 7 students, also known as first years.
In my first year, I had five lessons a day and, within three days, I had 11 pieces of homework.
The school usually supplies you with a planner, where you can record what your homework is about, but nearly everyone would forget about it and would end up with many detentions. Year sevens would become extremely confused when two detentions were at the same time.
Most teachers can be too stubborn and will not listen when you try to persuade them to change one of them to a different point in the day. On many occasions, I have seen a distraught year seven in an after school detention because they had failed to go to both the detentions they had at the same time.
You must remember to be tough, because detentions are definitely not the end of the world.
I think it’s useful to have a couple of them because people who never have them are much more stressed.
But to help you keep on top of the enormous amount of homework, I suggest buying a whiteboard to keep at home, where you can record every piece of homework needed.
Some teachers are more lenient than others. I found that teachers for core subjects are a lot stricter, so try to stay positive when they come over to you and start shouting. Don’t look away – they will presume you are sniggering.
But make sure to keep you mouth closed. It can be bad when you are told to stop answering back, but it is even worse when spit comes flying out of their mouth.
Teachers love rules, so make sure you follow most of them.
My school is very strict. There are some rules that you will break by accident, like not having any shine on your earrings, or wearing the wrong type of trouser. Even teachers sometimes roll their eyes at these rules.
No one is supposed to wear makeup, either but nearly everyone ignores that. You will be very unlucky if you run into the deputy head, for they are the only people that seem to care about those rules. I learned quickly that you need to be careful about how far you stretch them.
But make sure you don’t just focus on what your teachers will think of you.
How you act will have a big impression on the friends you gain.
I went to quite a big primary school, so I knew many people in my high school but that did not always matter. First impressions started again and people would go into groups based on how people did really simple things, like saying their name on the register.
It is extremely hard to get the perfect balance so that everyone likes you, but I would suggest if you don’t think about it too much, you will hopefully get into a group that acts like you do in lessons, and also likes being in your company.
The school I attend can get quite rough. If you have the privilege of getting to choose your locker or peg in a cloakroom, make sure to choose a good place with not too many people and at a height where you do not have to crouch.
Many people may want the same locker as you, so there can be small fights to get there. Stay determined to get the locker, but do not get into the middle of the fight and do not be the one at the back saying “excuse me” and getting nowhere. You’ve got to use the elbow.
Whatever locker or cloakroom you end up getting, you are lucky. At the school I go to, year sevens have to carry their bags around for the whole day.
Finally, the worst point of starting secondary school. Nearly all uniforms are terrible and the sad news is, there is no way to make it better.
My school has such an atrocious uniform that a name has been christened for it: the moldy banana. People don’t recognize the school I go to when I say its name, but when I describe the uniform as the moldy banana, they know the school.
It’s called this because a yellow shirt is accompanied by a brown blazer. This wouldn’t be too bad, but the school decided that they must have a black skirt to finish the moldy look.
If you ever look at yourself in your school uniform and sigh, don’t worry, everyone is in the same boat. One day, you’ll joke about the time you went to a high school with such an atrocious uniform, there was a nickname for it.
In the midst of this coronavirus pandemic, it is even harder for people starting year seven.
Try to be as confident and organized as you can and hopefully, you won’t struggle too much.
Don’t worry if you hate your school uniform – there are worse ones out there. Except if you attend the Moldy Banana School, which is the absolute worst.
Charlotte Kelleher is a Junior Reporter with Youth Journalism International. She wrote the text and took the photo.
Lucy Tobier is a Senior Illustrator and Reporter with Youth Journalism International. She drew the moldy banana.
Alyce Collett is a Correspondent with Youth Journalism International. She assisted with the banana mashup.