A new book from a University of Dundee academic examines how children can be helped to manage the progression from pre-school to primary, primary to secondary and secondary to post-school stages of their lives.
‘Educational Transitions: Moving Stories from Around the World' brings together the work of academics from New Zealand, Japan, China, Finland, England, Scotland, Nigeria and the US, who have been exploring the process of transition in different education systems.
The research was the brainchild of Dr DivyaJindal-Snape, Senior Lecturer at the University of Dundee's School of Education, Social Work and Community Education, who edited the book as well as conducting research for it.
Dr Jindal-Snape explained that the team aims to make a contribution towards the goal of quality education for all through the sharing of knowledge and experiences from around the world. The book is unique in that it considers transitions in a holistic manner, rather than examining each transitional stage in isolation.
She said the book, published by Routledge Education, is useful to a range of people, including academics, practitioners such as teachers, educational psychologists, and parents, all of whom have a role to play in minimising the problems associated with transitions.
"Transitions refers to the point where children move from one stage of education to another and involves an on-going process that focuses on interactions between the child and peers, teachers, and families," she said. "The book draws from experiences and research of different people working across the globe.
"For most children, progressing from one educational stage to another is a very exciting and fulfilling time but some find it more difficult than others. Research suggests that if the child struggles with the transition then there might be a drop in achievement, a drop in self esteem and a lowering of confidence.
"Some may have formed attachments to the place, whereas others struggle with their network of friends being disrupted. Staff ratio changes from almost one-to-one basis at nursery to maybe one-to-thirty in primary to dealing with a whole range of new teachers and environments in secondary.
"Most researchers who have examined transitions previously have concentrated on only one of these stages but what is unique about our book is that it examines all of these transitions as part of one process.
"It pulls together findings from different stages and looks at the situation around the world and how different educational systems manage the transitions differently. This book is aimed not just at academics - it was important for us for it to be accessible for parents looking to help their child manage these stages in their education as we felt this will help make a difference.
"This book is about examining how we can help teachers, practitioners and parents to help those changing stages."
‘Educational Transitions' identifies that:
- Good relationships with teachers and peers are essential for successful transitions.
- It is vital to involve parents in the transitions process as they too are experiencing a transition and need to be helped to help their child.
- School-to-school and intra-school communication is important to help minimise the difficulties for pupils moving through the educational stages.
- Difficult transitions can have a lasting effect on the child's motivation to learn and their achievements.
- Despite variations in education systems and stages, the basic transitional processes and challenges seem to be universal.
- There is a need to consider the training needs of teachers and other practitioners in helping manage transitions.
By identifying policies and initiatives from across the world that have helped to make the transition process more rewarding and less difficult for pupils, the book highlights examples of good practice that could be effectively applied elsewhere to improve standards across the globe.
In all, 19 researchers contributed to Educational Transitions, including Dr Jindal-Snape's colleagues at Dundee, Dr Keith Topping, Dr David Miller and Dr Elizabeth Hannah. Several other contributors have strong links to the University, having either studied or researched there.
Dr Jindal-Snape has been invited to discuss the findings of the book at conferences in the UK, the Netherlands and Slovenia, and has recently returned from Tokyo where she took part in the prestigious Japan Education Forum speaking on the subject of UNESCO goals of 'Education For All'.
She says she has learnt much from the contributing authors and is keen to share this knowledge with education professionals and policy makers, as well as to continue collaborative transition research with international experts.
A number of Educational Transitions research seminars, which will include presentations from international academics, practitioners, and policy makers as well as learners and their families, are planned. These events will provide the platform for debate, discussion and shared learning.