Negotiating change : the impact of school transfer on attainment, self-esteem, self-motivation and attitudes in physical education
The purpose of this study was to identify any changes in attainment, self-esteem, self-motivation and attitudes to physical education between the end of year 6 and the beginning of year 8 (during the transfer from primary to secondary school), and to establish the extent of any differences between gender, age of transfer and school attended. Consideration was also given to the ways in which continuity and promotion was promoted between schools involved in the study. Data was collected on four occasions over a 20-month period. Data pertaining to attainment was collected using observation techniques and teacher assessment, whilst self-esteem and self-motivation was collected using questionnaires. Attitudinal data, information relating to physical education, and continuity and progression data were collected using questionnaires and interviews. Results showed significant increases in attainment, self-esteem and self-motivation between the end of year 6 and the beginning of year 8. Significant differences were evident in relation to gender, age of transfer and secondary school attended. Significant positive relationships were found between attainment and self-esteem, attainment and self-motivation, and self-esteem and self-motivation, allowing a tentative relationship model to be proposed. Changes in attitudes towards physical education were also found. Whilst teachers acknowledged the importance of continuity and progression, links between schools focused on social / pastoral rather than curricular issues. Time, staffing issues and finance were identified as the main constraints to the establishment of links. What emerges is a complicated picture of inter-related factors, with no universal solution. Each teacher must consider this broad range of factors within the context they teach. In order to do this there is perhaps a need to raise awareness amongst teachers of the impact of the transfer between primary and secondary phases of education on pupils across curriculum subjects, and that this should be explicitly considered and planned for.