Transition to school
This literature review was originally published 3 November 2021.
In 2020, approximately 100,000 students started primary school in NSW, including 70,610 children at government schools (ABS 2020). For many of these children, the transition will be a positive experience. However, some children may find this transition challenging, and this can have lasting impacts on their educational outcomes.
The importance of a successful transition to school is well recognised across the literature. It is considered a significant event for both children and their families, and one that can have a considerable impact on a child’s longer-term academic, social and wellbeing outcomes (OECD 2017; Sayers et al. 2012; Schulting et al. 2005). The transition to school is also a significant event for the educators in a child’s life.
This paper updates the 2016 Transition to school literature review by the NSW Department of Education’s Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation (CESE). It can be used by early childhood education and care (ECEC)1 services, schools and families to expand understandings of the transition process and inform practices that can support successful transitions for all children. It examines the existing literature on the transition to primary school from home and/ or ECEC settings. This encompasses a number of issues, including:
- what constitutes a successful transition to school
- how the concept of school readiness is defined and what school readiness incorporates
- the key factors which support a successful transition to school for children, their families and educators.
Although there is a significant amount of literature on this topic, there remains a lack of clarity surrounding how to measure a successful transition to school.
Purpose of resource
The 'Transition to school' resource updates the 2016 Transition to school literature review by the CESE. It can be used to expand understandings of the transition process and inform practices that can support successful transitions for all children.
When and how to use
This resource is a literature review, and is accompanied by the Transition to school: case studies. School leaders and teachers can read, reflect on, discuss and implement principles highlighted in the literature review as part of school-developed High Impact Professional Learning (HIPL).
The appropriate time to use this resource may differ for each school, leader and teacher.
School leaders can:
- unpack the report, using the accompanying discussion guide, as part of whole-school professional development and/or stage or grade team meetings
- determine a focus area from the report and encourage teachers to share key findings during professional development
- reflect on strategies, policies or practices currently in place that support a successful transition to school
- facilitate discussions with staff about potential actions to strengthen transition to school practices
- facilitate discussions with staff about opportunities to collaborate with early childhood education and care (ECEC) services and families.
- read the literature review and reflect on current transition to school strategies, policies or practices that support a successful transition to school
- unpack the literature review, using the accompanying discussion guide, in a group setting.
Alignment to system priorities and/or needs: NSW Department of Education Strategic Plan 2018-2022: 'All children make a strong start in life and learning and make a successful transition to school.'
‘Brighter Beginnings’ initiative.
Alignment to School Excellence Framework: Learning domain – learning culture (transitions and continuity of learning).
Alignment with other existing frameworks: Australian Professional Standards for Teachers – Standards 1 and 7; National Quality Framework – ‘extend and enrich children’s learning from birth to 5 years and through the transition to school’.
Reviewed by: Emeritus Professors Sue Dockett and Bob Perry.
Created/last updated: Originally published 3 November 2021.
To be reviewed: CESE publications are prepared through a rigorous process. Resources are reviewed periodically as part of an ongoing evaluation plan.