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Year 7 students unprepared for high school transition, research finds

Tuesday, 1 Feb 2022

Research from Life Ed has found more than a third of new year 7 students are feeling scared and unprepared about the step up to secondary school life, with significant negative flow on effects for social and academic outcomes.

The findings come as Australian students head back into the classroom, facing yet another year of uncertainty due to COVID.

More than 80 focus groups of 444 Australian school children aged 10-14 took part in what is the largest Australian face-to-face student research into transitioning challenges.

The study found while almost a third were feeling excited and positive about the change, a quarter were overwhelmingly scared or overcome with uncertainty due to a lack of knowledge and understanding about their new education environment.

The findings build on past academic research that shows students who transition successfully are more likely to have more academic success and social emotional and behavioural competencies, while higher amounts of transition stress predicted lower grades, lower connectedness to school, and increased school related anxiety.

‘Difficult’ new school transitions meant new students were more likely to experience poorer social and emotional health up to a year later, putting students at greater risk of dropping out of school.

Life Ed Australia CEO Kellie Sloane said teachers and parents play a vital role in helping students make a successful transition, setting them up to thrive academically, socially and emotionally.

“The move to high school can be a stressful time. COVID has further added to the uncertainty children face when navigating changing school environments. The class of ‘22 have spent two years in and out of school with lockdown induced remote learning. What’s more, in many States the start dates are being pushed back,” Ms Sloane said.

The research is clear – students need more help to make the successful transition to high school.
Kellie Sloane, CEO Life Ed

To assist teachers and parents to better prepare and support students during this period, Life Ed is launching a range of free online resources, which will be available in June.

“In the meantime, we’ve released some early resources for parents and teachers on our website. I encourage teachers and parents to visit our website now and download our free information sheets and register their interest in the full suite of resources,” Ms Sloane said.

The Guide to Thrive is funded by the Department of Education Skills and Employment. The Australian Government has contributed $4.4 million to Life Ed in 2019-22 for projects including the Guide to Thrive program and around $9 million to Life Ed since 2002, supporting their work in schools across Australia.

Learn more about our 'Guide to Thrive' program.