Each year in Ireland, over 50,000 young people make the transition from
primary to secondary school. This journey, although regarded with
importance, has not been researched to any great degree in the Irish context.
International research has tended to be mainly quantitative in its focus.
Relatively little attention, in transition related research, has been paid to the
‘voice’ of the young people or the teachers who strive to support them along
This research, through a three phase mixed methods research design,
explored the transition experiences of a group of young people who had made
the transition from 13 small primary schools into a single large secondary
school, in a rural setting in Ireland. The views of some of their primary school
and secondary school teachers were also gathered. The overall aim of the
research was to establish a rich picture of the lived reality of the primary to
secondary school transition process. In order to achieve this, Phase 1, by
means of a comparison of a pre and post transition standardised
questionnaire measure, sought to investigate the effects of the transition on
each young person’s self-esteem. Phase 2, through the use of a transition
questionnaire with all of the young people, sought to investigate the
experiences of all of the young people. It then focused more specifically,
through the use of a semi-structured interview, on some who had been
identified as experiencing either a decline or an increase in their self-esteem
levels. Phase 3, through the use of semi-structured interviews with primary
school teachers and focus groups with secondary school teachers,
investigated what they had to say about the transition process they observe
and experience each year.
Building on the reported findings of what the young people and their teachers
had to say, this research provides a number of recommendations. The unique
contribution of this research is that it offers the “Transition Corridor” as a
framework for action for the future.