Transition from Primary to Secondary Schooling

This home page contains information about the Transition from Primary to Secondary Schooling Project, a study undertaken by the Research Division of the Ministry of Education. It also provides links to the results from the project.

About the Study

A review of international research indicates that the transition from primary to secondary school can be a stressful time for students. It also shows that while many schools have positive initiatives in place to ease the transition for students, there is still a lot to learn about the complexities of this transition.

In response to the need to know more about this transition in the New Zealand context the Research Division of the Ministry of Education has been involved in a semi-longitudinal study following a group of Year 8 students from their last term at primary school through to Year 9, and on into their second year at secondary school (Year 10).

The overall aim of the research was to identify the key variables that seem to facilitate or hinder a smooth transition for students between the two school sectors in terms of their (a) overall learning and achievement (b) social development/adjustment and (c) development (or maintenance) of positive attitudes towards school, learning and achieving well.

The study was designed to obtain in-depth information from students about how they felt about school, particular subjects, their own learning and achievement, other interests both within and outside school, and their experiences of transition. Students were interviewed at four different stages over 18 months. In addition to being interviewed, students were also tested in reading, writing and maths using asTTle (Assessment Tools for Teaching & Learning) so that their achievement before, during and after the transition from primary to secondary school could be monitored.

Specific information about the students was also sought from parents and teachers. More general information to do with the transition and schooling was obtained through interviews with school principals, teachers, school counsellors, Year 9 deans and other school staff.

The final data collection for the project was completed at the end of Term 1, 2005 when the participating students were in Year 10.