Evidence shows that effective transitions to school contribute to children’s long-term learning and development. While the importance of transitions to school is recognised in policy and practice across Australia, more can be done to build shared understandings of what effective transitions involve.  

How do we know if a transition is effective?

A successful transition has taken place when a child and their family feel a sense of belonging in their new school community, and when this is recognised by teachers and educators.  A sense of belonging can assist many aspects of children’s learning and development, including their emerging sense of identity, wellbeing, and engagement with school.  

Transitions to school are complex

Transitions are a process that takes time, starting and extending well beyond the first day of school. They involve collaboration between teachers, educators and leaders in early childhood services and schools, as well as partnerships with children and families. Every child and family experiences transition to school in a unique way, with no one-size-fits-all approaches. 

Why measure transitions to school?

Measurement assists educators, teachers and policymakers to: 

  • identify and celebrate practices that contribute to effective transitions 
  • monitor and evaluate the transition process to identify where practices can be enhanced or improved 
  • ensure multiple perspectives are heard through each transition  experience 
  • promote conversations about effective transitions between stakeholders to generate partnerships, and shared understandings and responsibility. 

Measuring effective transitions to school

Our transitions discussion paper outlines 3 constructs that can be measured to determine the effectiveness of transitions and children and families’ sense of belonging. These include measuring children’s capabilities; evaluating teacher and educator practices; and monitoring the local community, policy influences and children’s transitions over time.  

Next steps 

We’ll work with teachers and educators in early childhood services and schools to further understand effective transitions to school, and how a sense of belonging can be supported for all children. This will help build shared understandings of effective transitions, and support collaboration.  

We're also developing an evidence synthesies and practical resources to assist teachers and educators working in schools and early childhood services, including outside school hours care (OSHC). These resources will address two priority issues for improving the effectiveness of transitions: 

  • supporting children with disability or developmental delay to experience successful transitions to school.  
  • supporting continuity and learning for children who transition between OSHC, school and home.  

We will work with expert researchers, leaders, teachers and educators to develop and trial these resources, to ensure they are as useful as possible.