How does support from peers compare with support from adults as students transition to secondary school?
Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science
Child Health Promotion Research Centre
Purpose: Understanding how young people navigate the transition from primary to secondary school is critical for preventing the adverse mental health, social, and academic outcomes associated with a difficult transition. This study sought to determine from whom young people receive support before the transition period to help inform the development of future intervention research testing, as well as peer, school, and family-based supports during transition. Methods: Data were collected from 1,974 primary school students prior to the transition and again in Term 1 of the first year of secondary school. Students were asked about their expectation of the transition as well as their support from peers, family, and the school. Just over half (52%) of the sample were females with a mean age of 12 years. Results: Peer, school, and family supports all predicted positive student transition experiences. When in Grade 7 and considering all predictors together, a high level of perceived peer support was the most significant predictor of an expectation of an easy or somewhat easy transition. In Grade 8, again after considering all sources of support, parental presence was the most significant protective predictor of an easy or somewhat easy transition experience. Conclusions: Students who expect and experience a positive transition to secondary school are generally well-supported by their peers, school, and family. The most stable influence for young people over the transition period is the presence of families before and after school and future intervention efforts to support young people during transition need to build support from families.