Publication Details

Evangelou, M., Taggart, B., Sylva, K., Melhuish, E., Sammons, P. & Siraj-Blatchford, I. (2008). What makes a successful transition from primary to secondary school?. Nottingham, United Kingdom: Department for Children Schools and Families.


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 (McGee et. al., 2004). In addition, the progress pupils make at primary school may not always be maintained after the move to secondary level. The Government's Five Year Strategy for Children and Learners has acknowledged that "too many children still find the transition from primary to secondary school difficult -some fall back in their learning as a result" (DfES, 2004, p.61). As part of its commitment to ensuring that every young person achieves their full potential, the Government's Strategy aims to provide all pupils with a smooth transition from primary to secondary school. This report presents the findings of a sub-study on transitions undertaken as part of the Effective Pre- school, Primary and Secondary Education 3-14 (EPPSE 3-14 project), a major longitudinal study investigating the influence of pre-school, primary and secondary school on children's cognitive and social/behavioural development in England. 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.