The transition from primary to secondary school is important in the lives of children and their families, yet research has shown that transitions can be stressful for children, that continuity of curriculum between primary and secondary school may suffer during transition and that some vulnerable children need intervention prior to transition.

The transitions sub-study of more than 500 children and families sheds light on current transition practices and highlights what helps and hinders a successful transition. It takes into account the influence of child and family background characteristics such as socio-economic status (SES) and gender. It suggests how the transition experience could be improved to enhance smooth continuity between primary and secondary school.

The study, which is summarised in this brief, aims to explore any issues that support pupils’ transition from primary to secondary schools, and any hindrances that affect the process. It also aimed to explore the experiences and perceptions of both pupils and their parents of the transitional process, and describe the specific practices which lead to positive and negative transitions.


  • Introduction and Background
  • Key findings
  • Aims
  • Methodology
  • Current transition practices
  • Key Features of a Successful Transition
  • What hinders a successful transition?
  • Transitions for vulnerable children
  • Conclusions and implications
  • Further Information