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.

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

Reflecting on current transition practices

As well as the Strong and successful start to school transition guidelines (PDF 2.84MB) the department has developed other tools to assist schools to reflect on current transition practices.

The strong start four-part animation series supports school leaders and teachers to understand and reflect on how tailored, evidence-based transition practices lead to positive outcomes for children’s start to school. These practices are informed by guidance in the strong start to school – transition guidelines.

This animation explores the crucial role schools play in providing children opportunities for success by embedding strong transition practices over time (3:14).

Starting strong, what does it look like?


This animation will explore the crucial role schools play in providing children opportunities for success by embedding strong transition practices over time. Transition practices, such as an orientation program, school tours, classroom visits, invitations to whole school events, and connecting with early childhood services and community groups, provide children and families multiple opportunities over time to develop a sense of belonging to the school community. Transition is an opportunity to build relationships with children, families, and community, as well as an opportunity to orient children to the school context.

When schools offer inclusive and tailored support during transition, they lay foundations for ongoing collaboration. Children experience competence in transferring their skills and knowledge from one setting to the other. When schools have planned, deliberate practices spaced out over the year before children start school, positive patterns of learning, attendance and behaviour also occur.

Children experience confidence and can make sense of new learning experiences when schools acknowledge and plan for learning based on what children already know. It is also important that schools incorporate and value children's culture and identity.

Children experience less change to how they engage in learning and gain a sense of agency when schools plan and teach in similar ways to what children experience in their early childhood service. This provides opportunities for a sense of achievement and competence, particularly when diversity and inclusion are considered, ensuring a strong learning platform for every child to achieve their potential.

Children experience the ability to transfer and adapt knowledge from what they were learning in their early childhood setting to what they are learning at school in a more seamless way when schools talk and meet with early childhood teachers.

When schools provide multiple opportunities for children to feel a sense of familiarity, they can identify similarities and move between environments with increased confidence. They experience opportunities for higher cognitive functioning and experience mastery with skills and knowledge when there is a shared understanding of curriculum links and learning continuum between schools and early childhood services.

Transition to school is a critical part of quality education and the way schools acknowledge children as capable learners makes a big difference as to how strong their start to school will be. Providing professional learning to build staff capacity, creating a transition team and using the transition checklist and timeline resources are just a couple of ways schools can embed strong transition practices.

For more information, visit the Early learning website.

[End of transcript]

This animation will explore evidence-based practices that value children’s sense of belonging and ensure they are known, valued and cared for as they start school.

Strong start – every student is known, valued and cared for (3:23)

Strong start – every student is known, valued and cared for


This animation will explore evidence-based practices that value children's sense of belonging and ensuring they are known, valued, and cared for as they start school. It also highlights that schools who commit to the delivery of the department's strategic wellbeing outcomes during transition are likely to see a correlation to improved attendance rates and less behaviour issues.

Children experience a more positive and successful image of themselves as learners when schools develop strong partnerships with families, early childhood service and other professionals. Investing in these partnerships early ensures strong connections are maintained and relevant information about what children know, can do, and understand is shared.

School readiness refers to more than a child being ready for school. It is a shared responsibility when readiness is viewed in a holistic way. Meaning the focus is on ready schools, then comes ready families, ready early childhood services, ready communities, and ready children.

When schools are active in finding out information about children's learning and families’ aspirations, mutual trust and communication channels are opened up, ensuring children experience inclusive and flexible ways to transition to school. Engaging in the transition school statement provides a genuine baseline of children's existing skills so schools can plan to maximise learning outcomes.

Children have a greater chance of attending, and engaging in learning at school every day, and successful lifelong learning when schools proactively support children for transition early as part of their attendance at a high-quality early childhood service. Transition to school is the optimal time to support feelings of belonging, competence, and a love of school and learning. Research shows that children experience continuity in their social and cognitive development when schools adopt practices that are related to early childhood. When early childhood and primary learning is aligned, children are more likely to be engaged.

Children experience connection, emotional safety, and a settled disposition during transition when there is alignment of wellbeing outcomes across both learning environments. Schools make this a reality by recognising the links between guiding documents such as the School Excellence Framework, the Wellbeing Framework, and the National Quality Standard. Schools that excel at transition to school collaborate to support children's continuity of learning.

Involving children, engaging in professional networks with early childhood teachers, valuing families as the primary influence, and providing play-based experiences during transition visits are just a couple of ways schools can support children to feel known, valued, and cared for.

For more information, visit the Early learning website.

[End of transcript]

This animation will explore the link between family and community engagement and a child’s academic success and wellbeing.

A strong start is everyone’s responsibility (3:23)

A strong start is everyone’s responsibility


This animation will explore the link between family and community engagement, and a child's academic success and wellbeing.

A committed team within a school collaborating with a range of stakeholders and guiding the process, ensures evidence-based practices are embedded and are reflected on to inform improvement. When children experience an informed and supported transition, including reciprocal visits between early childhood services and schools, their prior skills, knowledge, and dispositions are acknowledged and incorporated into ongoing planning.

This allows teachers to provide continuity of learning for children and to build relationships with families. Children benefit when schools actively seek information from early childhood services to support their plans for teaching and learning as children start school. Research shows children are more successful in terms of academic performance and wellbeing indicators when they have experienced a high-quality preschool program. When schools use the transition to school statement as a springboard for creating partnerships, more information can be shared, and children's learning is scaffolded.

When children experience a wider support network and see their family and community input reflected, connection is valued and informs how all stakeholders will work together to manage change and create positive experiences. Strong partnerships support a strong start to school and improved lifelong outcomes. They allow children to experience education as a continuum and engage in learning that is meaningful and purposeful.

Professional learning networks with local early childhood educators that work with local community groups, including the local Aboriginal education consultative group, or local cultural group can really strengthen every child's start to school. These transition practices are equally relevant for children transitioning at other times from lower to upper primary, or when families move schools, or indeed as children move from primary to secondary.

Families and children are likely to experience positive transitions between Stages and across school years when schools provide early positive connections. When they experience meaningful relationships, regardless of the transition point, opportunities for ongoing achievements are set.

When children feel equipped with the tools required to transition through significant changes, they are able to take these skills with them throughout their school life, and generally into lifelong success. Collaboration with all stakeholders is a powerful element that supports quality transition practices. Partnering with early childhood services and including local community groups during transition planning are just a couple of ways your school can share the responsibility to ensure children have a strong start to school.

For more information, visit the Early learning website.

[End of transcript]

This animation will explore how deliberate and purposeful transition planning is an important aspect of the school excellence cycle and will embed strong and sustainable transition to school practices (3:23).

Transition planning to support a strong start


This animation will explore how deliberate and purposeful transition planning is an important aspect of the strategic improvement cycle and will embed strong and sustainable transition to school practices.

Rigorous assessment of your school's current transition plan will inform your improvement journey and support all children to have a strong start to school. When reviewing current practices, schools might ask if their transition practices support children to experience a strong and successful start to school.

What are our measures of successful transition? Schools might also consider how they capture multiple perspectives by asking, how can we capture the child's experiences, aspirations for learning and their learning journey? What about families, early childhood services, community and other agencies? What do they think, and how would they all rate our transition practices?

What data do we have on transition, and what does it tell us? How can we reflect on our school targets and identify where transition practices have influenced learning outcomes, attendance, and behaviour? How can we use the Australian Early Development Census data to identify vulnerabilities in the community and plan accordingly? Are our transition practices tailored to our unique context? How will we measure our responsive strategies to ensure they are effective and relevant to our current context? How do our transition practices align to current education priorities?

How are we contributing to the department's outcome that all children make a successful transition to school? How will we continue to engage in ongoing auditing of evaluative practices? How can we ensure there is evidence of monitoring and modifying practice considering all children at all transition points? Schools take a range of approaches to know what great transition practices look like, including, what does research identify as effective transition strategies? How do we implement evidence-based practices relevant to our unique context?

What are other schools, locally and internationally, doing to support a strong start to school? How can we seek opportunities within and beyond the school's network that are contextually relevant to our transition practices? When planning for improvement, schools might ask, what transition practices can we identify to stop doing that have not been successful and not increased school targets?

What can we learn from our other transition practices, such as Year 6 to 7? How can we transfer and adapt other high-impact practices and initiatives? What commitment are we making to pursue excellence in transition? How do we assess and plan against the School Excellence Framework indicators to guide adjustments to excel with transitions and continuity of learning? What new and innovative transition practices should we plan and update in our strategic improvement plan? How will we know when we are there?

By looking inward, looking outward, and looking forward, your school gains the clarity to envision and map your future directions for transition planning to ensure a strong start for children. Allocating time and resources to assess and evaluate transition practices and inviting feedback from children, families, early childhood services and the broader community are just a couple of ways to ensure your transition practices support the use of data and reflection.

For more information, visit the Early learning website.

[End of transcript]

Planning for effective school transition

The following tools may support schools when planning for effective transition to school strategies.


  • Early childhood education


  • Health, safety and wellbeing
  • Transition through stages

Business Unit:

  • Educational Standards
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