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 over the ensuing 9 years, aimed to improve primary secondary school transition and student engagement in learning (Year 4-Year 9). This was achieved by working closely with educators and community agencies to improve their knowledge and practice 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 coordinated this action research project alongside a highly engaged and supportive cross-sectoral Steering Group.
During the nine year project, the reach expanded across the inner north of Melbourne and beyond. Key to its success was a strong focus on building capacity and awareness of the need for a well-supported transition between Year 4 and Year 9 (the Middle Years). Twelve professional development events were delivered with over 500 participants from more than 130 cross-sectoral organisations. A facilitated Transition Review Process was developed and implemented in 27 schools across the region. Multiple transition clusters were developed and supported as well as the implementation in 2019 of a regional Transition Network. To ensure ongoing support for new and existing transition coordinators across all three education sectors, a range of transition resources were developed for schools, students and parents.
We acknowledge and sincerely thank our funding partners for their financial support as well as the considerable in-kind support from the Steering Group and other partners. Together we successfully raised awareness of the importance of the middle years transition, built capacity, and have left a legacy of valuable resources.
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:
- Organisation and Resourcing – Organisations involved in transition having a comprehensive and well communication transitions program, supported by appropriate structures and resources.
- Sharing Knowledge & Practice – Primary and secondary schools working collaboratively to improve the transition experience of students and families.
- Family & Community Engagement – Student learning is supported by families and the broader community.
- 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
- Student Voice – Students contributing to decision making about transition and collectively influencing transition outcomes by putting forward their ideas, views and concerns.
JTD Transition Resources
A number of valuable transition resources have been developed to support schools, students and parents. These include books, guides and videos
JTD Transition Guide for Schools
The Joining the Dots Transition Guide for Schools aims to be a highly practical digital reference for new Transition Coordinators, as well as a valuable refresher for those who are already in the role. It will emphasise transition as a continuum, but will focus on Year 4 to Year 9 transition – preparation, transfer, induction and consolidation.
This guide was developed as a resource for educators and wellbeing staff that brings together current research, good practice and useful tools into one easily accessible cross-sectoral guide.
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.