School transfer from primary to secondary education : a survey into the feelings of children transferring from primary to secondary education and the perceptions of parents and teachers
School transfer is one of a host of changes in our life. In fact, our whole life from birth to death, is a continuum of transitional stages. From birth to childhood, from home to nursery, from nursery to primary school, from primary school to secondary education, from secondary school to further and higher education. All these, in the area of the academic life of a person. Moving away from academia into the professional world, we meet another big area of transitions, in which one has to move from one job to another or from one position to a higher one. In the social sphere, one has to move from childhood to adolescence, and then on, into the cycle of family life, where one usually has to play the role of spouse, parent and grandparent. Measor and Woods (1984), point out that the concept of a status passage, originated from Van Gennep's work, The Rites of Passage (1960), and later was developed by Glaser and Strauss (1971). They add that 'It refers to transition in life wherein people undergo a change in status, whether it be from being alive to being dead (Glaser and Strauss's own example, 1968), from being a childless woman to being divorced (Hart 1976), from being a naive recruit to becoming a trained bread salesman (Ditton 1977) ( p159). Most of the above changes are largely considered as a natural course or, at least, a necessary transitional stage in one's life and, therefore, are usually taken for granted. However, school transfer, and especially the transitional period between primary and secondary school, is considered a very crucial stage in schooling. This because the two sectors of education are characterized by marked differences, while at the same time this transitional stage coincides with the passage from childhood to adolescence. Hence, the huge interest in the subject, in the way of research and the abundant literature that has been generated (Nisbet and Entwistle 1966; Nisbet and Entwistle 1969; Sumnera and Bradley 1977; Johnson and Ransom 1983; Measor and Woods (op. cit. ); Gorwood 1986; Youngman 1986; Psaltis 1999; Michaelidhou 2000; Psaltis 2000; Psaltis 2001; Pellegrini and Long 2002; Psaltis 2002; Psaltis 2002b). In the words of Measor and Woods (op. cit ), 'For many pupils, it might be thought that the transfer will appear a continuous, natural process, stepping off with eager anticipation from one status with easy assurance on to the next in one movement. But, it is in fact, vastly more complicated' (ibid. ). Curriculum continuity is a major factor in the transition (Gorwood op. cit. ), but other factors such as intellectual, social organizational and environmental (Measor and Woods op. cit. ) play an important role in school transfer from primary to secondary education. Yet, for some, school transfer is a challenge or a fresh start (Dowling 1986), while for others it is a distressing experience (Youngman 1978), or a trauma (Spelman, 1979). In connection, the Plowden Committee (1967), observed that 'children, like adults, enjoy and are stimulated by novelty and change', but also went on to stress the need for adequate preparation for transition and the importance of avoiding sudden changes if the change were in fact to stimulate and not dishearten, (par. 427). Still, some consider transfer as an event, but others view it as a process. In most schools, the number of people involved in transition is at best restricted to a member of the Senior Management Team (from now on SMT) aided by a few volunteer teachers and at worst, to nobody. Visits to secondary schools by top year primary school pupils is, at best, the most popular function, which is initiated either by the receiving or the feeder schools, as a measure towards easing the school transfer process. At worst, nothing is done. At any rate, I have known of no school that considers school transfer as a whole school activity. My approach is this and with my work, I am hoping to add an alternative dimension to the problem defined as the gap between primary and secondary education, by providing the principles for the development of a comprehensive Induction Programme (Appendix A).