What do students need to support their transition to secondary school?

T Visser, A Ringoot, L Arends, M Luijk, S Severiens*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The transition from primary to secondary education can be difficult for children. This paper reports on an intervention in the Netherlands known as the Talent Classrooms (TC), which aimed to support students’ primary-secondary school transition. The goal of TC was to increase the match between the personal environment of the student and the school environment to facilitate a successful transition, and to help students achieve their potential at secondary school.
With the needs described in the review by Symonds and Galton (2014) taken as a starting point for this investigation, we sought to explore the extent to which TC supported six specific needs during students’ primary-secondary transition period, according to participants’ longer term reflections about their earlier TC experiences.
In this qualitative study, in-depth interviews were conducted with ten former TC students, four to five years after they had participated in the intervention. Data were analysed qualitatively.
The analysis suggested that, according to the participants, TC had fostered most needs and this helped to support their transition experience. In particular, participants reported that, via their involvement in TC, they had become more familiar with the physical environment and routine of secondary school, were able to form lasting friendships and enjoyed a challenging curriculum and extracurricular activities. However, findings also indicated that the intervention did not fully succeed in supporting some needs, mainly in the areas of autonomy, competency, and identity development, as it did not seem to have prepared all participants sufficiently for the requirement for independent working they subsequently encountered in secondary school.
This study highlights how emphasis on the development of autonomy-related skills might be beneficial for interventions designed to assist students with the transition to secondary education. Moreover, it draws attention to the importance of tailoring support to individual students’ specific, varied and evolving needs during this stage of development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)320-336
Number of pages17
JournalEducational Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • >
  • Equity
  • Intervention
  • Primary school
  • School transition
  • Secondary school
  • Student development


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