The importance of the transition to secondary school

The importance of the transition to secondary school

A World Bank Development Report identifies the move to secondary school as "one of five important life stage transitions for young people".

No matter how confident a young person is at primary level, moving to secondary school can be an unsettling process - adapting to a more challenging school setting with different academic structures and significant changes in social interactions.
“A thriving child may lose potential during that period and destructive effects on self-esteem and academic attainment at age 18 have been reported in pupils whose transition experiences were difficult”(West et al., 2008).

A research study into transition to secondary school ‘STARS’ based at University College London and Cardiff University identified the major lasting concern for all pupils was losing old friends and making new ones. It went on to recommend a ‘whole school approach’ which involves multi-dimensional strategies delivered to all pupils.



*Fig 2: from the STARS report

The study concluded that a successful transition involved functioning well in two areas: 1) being academically and behaviourally involved in school and 2) feeling a sense of belonging to school.

According to the Institute of Education, children who experience a successful transition typically greatly expand their friendships, and display higher levels of self-esteem and confidence once at secondary school.

They also settle well into school life, demonstrate greater levels of interest in school and work in comparison to primary school, find it easy to adopt new routines, and find work completed in year 6 to be very useful for the work they have to undertake in year 7.

Whether before the end of term in July or during the first few months of the new school year it is clear that transition activities will have benefits for the students which last far beyond those first weeks.