Students' experience of the first term in high school

Year: 2008

Author: Lawson, Michael, Wyra, Mirella, Skrzypiec, Grace, Askell-Williams, Helen

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Transition from primary school to high school represents a major change in the way that students' school lives are organized. The differences in ways that primary and high schools are organized might be expected to be associated with anxieties in students who move from the senior year of one school to the most junior level of the other. Yet there is wide variation in the findings of research on the experiences of students around this period of transition. In this project we followed a group of students across the period of transition, gathering data on their lives at school. The first occasion for data gathering occurred at the end of the students' final year in primary school. We surveyed the same students after one term in high school. The surveys focused on different components of the students' school lives including, general satisfaction with school; degree of coping with school and with school work; sense of belonging to the school community; prevalence of bullying and harassment; coping with bullying and harassment; friendship and the sources of friends; knowledge of strategies for learning; and worries associated with transition. In this paper we report on the relationships between the students' views on these diverse components at the two time points; the profiles of views reported by boys and girls; and the extent to which the students' anticipated concerns were realized during the first term at school. The broad picture emerging from our qualitative and quantitative analyses is of a group of students whose transition experience had been generally positive, though specific areas of the students' academic and social lives diverged from this broad pattern.