NEW starters at a North-East school have been helped through the first half term thanks to the caring nature of older students.

Virtually all of Year 11 at South Shields School have enlisted in a pioneering initiative to help primary pupils make the successful leap into secondary education.

South Shields coach Andrew Fawkes has been working with the Year 11s in the practice of emotional resilience.

The older children have been buddying up with the 11-year- olds to smooth the transition from their much smaller primaries and help them make the transition easier to secondary school.

Natalie Proud, 15, said: “We were asked to help the Year 7s with any problems they might face this terms and now most of my year group are helping out and the school community has become much closer as a result.”

Sarah Seff, 15, added: “It has been a big success. I remember feeling a bit intimidated by the older students when I was in Year 7 and by helping the younger children it has helped them fit in quicker, meet expectations and become part of the family that our school undoubtedly is.”

Grace Patterson, 11, said the scheme had really helped her allay any fears. “I was nervous at first but am absolutely fine now and enjoying school life,” she said.

Charlie Teasdale, 11, said: “It was scary going to the big school and I did feel anxious but the Year 11s have helped me settle in.”

Jack Clapham, 15, added: “It has really helped me as well and has built my confidence because the best way to learn is to teach.”

Headteacher Allie Denholm said: “Both the Year 11 students and Year 7s have embraced the concept perfectly and it has helped break down traditional barriers between all of our year groups. School really is a family away from home and this is a great example of how it benefits us all.”