Supporting Transition from Primary to Secondary School
: Perspectives of Pupils, Parents and Teachers

  • Dianne Cantali

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Education


A review of literature suggests that the transition to secondary school is probably the most researched of all educational transitions. Many papers, however, focus on one aspect, for example, a curriculum subject or wellbeing. Often, reporting is biased towards negative experiences.

This thesis reports on a literature review and a two-year longitudinal study carried out in partnership with a cluster of one secondary school and six primary schools in a Scottish city. The objectives of the study were:

1) During the term prior to starting secondary school and during the first two years after the move, to explore stakeholders’ views:
     a) of the transition process over a 2-year period, spanning the final 2 months of P7 until the final 2 months of S2.
     b) regarding the transition planning and preparation put into place by the primary and secondary schools.

2) For outcomes to inform future transition practice by the school cluster.

The research design was based on a combination of Ecological Systems theory and Multiple and Multi-dimensional Transitions (MMT) theory. A longitudinal design was adopted with data collected from pupils, parents, and teachers at up to four time-points, using online surveys. The data were analysed using thematic analysis.

The findings suggest that most stakeholders reported a positive experience, and likewise, positive perceptions of the schools’ planning and preparation. Things went well, or not so well, regardless of the primary school attended. Some parents and teachers also thought that they experienced a transition.

The thesis makes a new contribution to the educational community in three ways. This is one of the only studies to follow pupils over their final year of primary school and first two years of secondary school, and report on their perceptions of the experience. Additionally, new contributions are made regarding whether the primary school attended influenced the experience, and in reporting parents’ and professionals’ views of their own transitions.
Date of Award2023
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorKumara Ward (Supervisor), Trish McCulloch (Supervisor) & Divya Jindal-Snape (Supervisor)

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