Joining the Dots: A Primary Secondary School Transition Action Research Project
Primary to Secondary School transition occurs during a period of time in a young person’s life that coincides with rapid physical, emotional, social and cognitive developments impacting on their connection to school and learning as a whole. It is widely accepted that a successful transition to secondary school (Year 4-Year 9) is a key factor in determining whether young people remain engaged in education, complete secondary school and transition into positive career pathways.
The Joining the Dots project commenced in 2012 and aims to improve primary secondary school transition and student engagement in learning (Year 4-Year 9). This will be achieved by working closely with educators and community agencies to improve their knowledge and practise in supporting student and family transition into and within secondary school, with a focus on better supporting students who are vulnerable to disengagement.
The Joining The Dots Project (JTD) was initiated in the City of Yarra to identify, implement and evaluate a transition model for young people, their families, the community sector and schools to ensure young people transition well from primary to secondary school, remain engaged in education and connected to their learning.
With its beginnings in the 2010 Yarra Education Forum, and then as a key initiative of the newly formed Yarra Education Youth Commitment (2012), the INLLEN has coordinated this action research project alongside a highly engaged and supportive cross-sectoral Steering Group.
Two consecutive City of Yarra Investing in Community Grants have provided 6 years of funding to implement the JTD Project in Yarra. However considerable in-kind support from the Steering Group and other community members has also been received.
A strong focus on building capacity and awareness of the need for a well supported transition between Year 4 and Year 9 has cemented JTD’s value in Yarra and beyond. Twelve professional development events were delivered with over 500 participants from more than 130 cross-sectoral organisations.
Funding from School Focused Youth Service, Department of Education and Training and Darebin City Council enabled the deepening of the JTD project in 2016-2018 to work closely with four secondary schools and their communities in Darebin and Moreland, conducting consultations and developing school-community action teams and transition clusters.
A facilitated and self-reflective Transition Review Process (TRP) for schools was developed, with 27 schools across the inner north now having a Plan for Action on Transition and Engagement. These schools now form four transition clusters.
Equally important has been the opportunity to bring together educators and local community agency workers to better understand how together they may support each other, students and families during this journey.
For further information, please refer to the Project and Evaluation Reports
Joining the Dot Transitional Model
In supporting a successful transition to secondary school (Year 4 – 9), educators need to work collaboratively to ensure that a student and family centred approach is embedded in school policy and practice.
The Joining the Dots Project in Yarra (2012-2017) culminated in the development of a model for transition.
The Model outlines the essential elements for a successful transition that have been distilled into five key dimensions:
- Student Voice – Students contributing to decision making about transition and collectively influencing transition outcomes by putting forward their ideas, views and concerns.
- Student Engagement – students fully participating in their education. They feel a sense of belonging and connectedness to school, are intrinsically motivated and self-regulating, are well organised and socially competent
- Family & Community Engagement – Student learning is supported by families and the broader community.
- Sharing Knowledge & Practice – Primary and secondary schools working collaboratively to improve the transition experience of students and families.
- Organisation and Resourcing – Organisations involved in transition having a comprehensive and well communication transitions program, supported by appropriate structures and resources.
JTD Transition Resources
A number of valuable transition resources have been developed to support schools, students and parents. These include books, guides and videos
Preparing for Secondary School – A Guide for Parents 2018
This guide is a valuable conversation tool and companion to secondary school application packs for all families. It has been developed to help guide parents/families through the process of selecting a secondary school, applying, enrolling and supporting learning at home.
The Guide was developed with support from the Department of Education and Training, Catholic Education Melbourne, Darebin City Council, City of Yarra, Moreland City Council, School Focused Youth Service, Berry Street & Merri Health.
Three Guides are available specific to each region: Darebin, Moreland & Yarra and each is also translated in Arabic, Chinese, Somali and Vietnamese.
Please note that the first half of the Guide is relevant for any Victorian family and such can also be used by all schools and community agencies to build their knowledge and understanding of this journey.
Where to next?
Joining the Dots Transition Network 2020
Established in 2019, the Joining the Dots Transition Network aims to build the capability of educators and community agency workers to improve transition and engagement practise from Year 4 – Year 9.
Guided by an experienced Steering Group comprised of educators, key representatives from DET, CEM and agencies, this valuable network provides members with opportunities to share practise, participate in professional learning, build their local networks and work collaboratively in local clusters.
This professional network is self-directed and self-funded with a dedicated coordinator. Previously meeting face to face once per term for a full day, the Network is now moving to an online platform.
For further information on the Project and opportunities to get involved, please contact:
Rochelle Darby, Manager Transitions INLLEN
M: 0408 036 602 E: firstname.lastname@example.org