Students’ experiences of the transition from primary to secondary school

Jane Tobbell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


There are many discontinuities between primary and secondary school and children have to manage these as part of the transition process. This process has been found to be problematic across culture, resulting in a downturn in educational achievement for almost all children in the short term and for a sizeable minority in the long term (Galton, Gray & Ruddock, 1999). There are no consistent explanations for this phenomenon in the psychological literature. It has been attributed to normative changes in adolescence as well as to wider contextual factors. Much of the research has started with an assumption of what the problems may be and so explanations focus on these assumptions. This research aimed to allow the experiences and feelings of the subjects of the transition (the students) to emerge by employing a qualitative design. These data are then used as a basis for theorising about transition. Following Vygotskian notions of learning and ecological models of development (Bronfenbrenner, 1999) the importance of relationships in the learning environment are discussed and the implications of these for the organisation of the education system and the process of classroom management are explored.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4-14
Number of pages11
JournalEducational and Child Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes


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