During their years of schooling students make a number of transitions. In addition to the most obvious transitions from ECE to school and from primary to secondary (often involving an additional transition via intermediate school), students also undergo transitions within ECE and school, such as the transition from junior to senior school. Students may also shift from one school to another as the result of moving house or for other reasons, and undergo a period of transition independent of their peer group.
The transition from early childhood to primary school involves noticeable changes in curriculum content as well as a shift towards more structured learning practices. The transition from primary school to secondary school involves further changes in curriculum and the structure of learning, and the stakes become higher in regards to assessment of academic achievement and its impact on future plans.
A number of studies from New Zealand and overseas have established that the transition from one school to another can have a detrimental effect on both the wellbeing and the academic achievement of students if not well planned and carefully managed. This is particularly important during the transition to secondary school because it coincides with a period of significant physical, emotional and cognitive development for adolescents.
Transitions should be thought of as a process that takes place over several months rather than as a single event. The evidence on positive transitions indicates that they rely on close collaboration and communication between the graduating and the receiving school, and among students, teachers and families. It is important to pay careful attention to the practical steps involved in the transition process as well as the academic and social emotional challenges they create for students.
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