Transition matters: pupils' experiences of the primary-secondary school transition in the West of Scotland and consequences for well-being and attainment

West, P., Sweeting, H. and Young, R. (2010) Transition matters: pupils' experiences of the primary-secondary school transition in the West of Scotland and consequences for well-being and attainment. Research Papers in Education, 25(1), pp. 21-50. (doi:10.1080/02671520802308677)

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Abstract

The importance of school transitions for pupil adjustment, particularly their impact on later well‐being and attainment, remains contested. This paper draws on data from a longitudinal, school‐based study of over 2000 Scottish pupils, first surveyed in 135 primary schools (age 11) in 1994, and followed up in 43 secondary schools (age 13 and 15) and again after leaving school (age 18/19) in 2002/3. The length of follow‐up makes this study unique in transition research. After a year in secondary school (age 13), the majority recalled having had difficulties of adjustment to both school and peer social systems at the beginning of secondary education. While the primary (but not secondary) school played a small part in accounting for different transition experiences, controlling for a wide range of sociodemographic and other factors, personal characteristics were much more important. Respondents of lower ability and lower self‐esteem experienced poorer school transitions; those who were anxious, less prepared for secondary school and had experienced victimisation, poorer peer transitions. Further analysis of the impact of school and peer transitions on well‐being and attainment revealed that each had specific independent effects both within and beyond secondary education. At age 15, a poorer school transition predicted higher levels of depression and lower attainment; a poorer peer transition, lower self‐esteem, more depression and lower levels of anti‐social behaviour. Although reduced in size, similar results extended to outcomes at age 18/19. These effects bear comparison with those associated with gender and school disengagement, clearly demonstrating the importance of successful transition for later well‐being and attainment.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Young, Mr Robert and Sweeting, Dr Helen
Authors: West, P., Sweeting, H., and Young, R.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > MRC/CSO Unit
Journal Name:Research Papers in Education
ISSN:0267-1522
ISSN (Online):1470-1146

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