Is Your Child Starting Secondary School this Year?

July 5, 2017

Doctoral candidate Katherine Clifford from Kingston University in London is looking at how children with a visible difference like a cleft lip cope with the transition to secondary school.

This study is focused on ‘resilience’, which is how someone reacts or adapts when faced with adversity.  Starting a new school can be challenging for any child, and looking at how they respond to these challenges and what makes them adapt positively can help us work out how best to support other children in the future.

Katherine wants to work with children who were born with a cleft lip and palate to understand how things might be different for them around this time in their lives. All the families involved will be given pseudonyms, and parents will be asked for consent at each point in the study.

Why might I want to take part?

We hope that you’ll find the experience interesting and useful. If you like, you’ll be able to get feedback from the study team in a short report of the overall study findings. Children will hopefully also be able to contribute to an information sheet about resilience during school transition for other children with a cleft.

How will the study work?

The study will take place from July/August 2017 until August 2018.

Part 1: Initial interview with the family and the child including a resilience questionnaire for the child (July/August 2017)

Part 2: Online ‘snapshot’ interview questions with the child, where we chat on live messenger about your school experiences (Sept – Dec 2017)

Part 3: Digital diary entries by the child (video blogs) where they record their school experiences at anytime they feel they would like to.

Part 4: Interview with the child and the teacher/peer (February 2018)

Part 5: End of year Interview with family and the child, including a resilience questionnaire for the child (July/August 2018)


Please read this invitation and information sheet, which includes study details about participation, and let me know if you are willing to participate by contacting:

Katharine Clifford, Research PhD student, at: [email protected]

Read the Information Sheet

3 responses to “Is Your Child Starting Secondary School this Year?”

  1. I was talking about this very subject with scotlands cleft psychologist Rebecca just today. I was saying that my son who starts secondary school this August has been struggling with the transition. Saying that there is so much support from birth till the children are ten where there are Christmas parties etc then there is definitely a gap and it is such a crucial time. We had tried to join the youth group at Clapa for my son to be able to share experiences with children who understood but being under 13 he is not able to have his own Facebook account!!!!
    He is staying the night away so I’m not able to ask him if he would like to join the study but I definitely feel that for it to be positively tackled would be a great thing as there is definitely a need for specific support and contact with children at a similar stage. Though I have to say Orla Duncan has been a star up until now helping Zak to reassure him and give him the tools to be able to cope with questions etc. It is such a scary time for all children, so the addition worry about your cleft can’t be easy.

    • Hi Samantha,

      I’m sorry to hear your son has been struggling with this. You’re right that there can be a lack of support around this time which is something CLAPA is hoping to change over the next few years. If your son is interested in taking part in this study, please do get in touch as he may find the chance to talk about his experiences beneficial.

      Also, as you’re in Scotland, are you aware of the Scottish Children and Young People’s Council? It’s for 9-17 year olds, and while it’s more of a consultation group, the members still say it’s a great source of peer support. I’m not sure if they still have places available, but if not your son may be able to join a waiting list.

      Anna Martindale
      Communications & Information Manager @ CLAPA

  2. My daughter has recently experienced a few transition days at her future high school. Though she doesnt start until Sept 2018. As we expected she came across lots of stares,points, whispers and sniggers and an actual incident with a very unpleasant character. A prompt email to the transition teacher to introduce our circumstances and inform her of our resilience to many things (I have a cleft lip and palate too) gave me a little reassurance that the teacher is now aware and hopefully be prepared to look out for my daughters during her transition. Yes, it can incredibly anxious time for some parents, but when your child has a visible difference to others and it’s stepping out of the comfort zone of a small primary school it’s even harder. I hope this service you are offering will be of great use to those who might it. Thank you!

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