Transition to school

Supporting a strong and successful start to school involves schools engaging with high-quality transition practices for children and families.

An effective and positive transition to school ensures that teachers know each child and family which ensures continuity of learning that meets the academic and wellbeing needs of all children.

Minister's address

The Hon. Sarah Mitchell MLC – Minister for Education and Early Childhood learning encourages strong commitment in planning transition to school, and launches the Strong and successful start to school - Transition guidelines in the following video (1:12).

Address from the Hon. Sarah Mitchell MLC – Minister for Education and Early Childhood learning.

Transcript of Address from the Hon Sarah Mitchell

What are evidence-based transition practices?

The strong and successful start to school transition guidelines (PDF 2.84MB) provide policy advice for schools to support principals, leadership teams and Early Stage 1 teachers in planning, implementation, and evaluation of transition practices.

Image: Strong and successful start to school– transition guidelines

See differentiated approaches to transition for further information on equity groups.

Why is continuity of learning important?

Continuity of learning is crucial for optimising improved learning and wellbeing outcomes for children. Building on children’s prior and current experiences helps them to feel secure, confident and connected to familiar people, places, events and understandings. Children, families and early childhood educators all contribute to successful transitions between settings. As children make transitions to new settings (including school) educators from early childhood settings and schools commit to sharing information about each child’s knowledge and skills so learning can build on foundations of earlier learning. (Early Years Learning Framework, p.19).

The National Quality Standard and the School Excellence Framework emphasise the importance and responsibility of a continuity of learning in terms of excellence in early childhood and primary school settings.

To ensure children have a positive experience during the period of transition, educators in both early childhood settings and primary schools need to place children and their experiences at the centre of their transition practices. This involves knowing what and how children learn in each other’s spaces and occurs when there is a focus on engaging, connecting with each other, building supportive and reciprocal relationships between local early childhood settings and primary schools.

Where can families find further information?

Effective transition to school is about the whole school engaging with children and families to make sure children are well supported through the process. It involves collaborative partnerships with early childhood services, families, and other professionals, including the transfer of information from one setting to another through open and honest conversations.

Talking about starting school in a positive way and encouraging your child to talk about going to school can help your child feel settled about the upcoming changes.

What are some examples of practice?

Five schools share strategies they are using to support transition to school in unusual circumstances:

What professional learning and resources are available?

The Early learning professional learning catalogue offers a range of professional learning for teachers and leaders to support a strong and successful transition to school for all children, including:


Other department resources

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 examines the existing literature on the transition to primary school from home and/ or ECEC settings, 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.

These case studies form part of a series to support the NSW Department of Education’s strategic goal of ‘All children make a strong start in life and learning and make a successful transition to school’. A successful transition to school is about laying strong foundations for year-on-year improvement by ensuring that our students are engaged and ready for challenge. The case studies refer to and draw on the department’s new Strong and successful start to school transition guidelines.

Note: Fieldwork for the case studies was undertaken after the 2020 COVID-19 outbreak, but before the 2021 Delta outbreak.

External resources

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