Research about transition to school

​Periodically there will be opportunities for early childhood services and schools to participate in research projects to support a positive start to school.

Information about these research projects is available here:

2017 - Support for Children and Families at Risk of Experiencing Vulnerability

The Department has released two new reports: a Rapid Literature Review undertaken by ACER and the Brotherhood of St Laurence, and a Practice Review by Deakin University on 'Early Years Transitions: Support for Children and Families at Risk of Experiencing Vulnerability'.

The Rapid Literature Review highlights Australian and international evidence-based practices for supporting children and families experiencing vulnerability in early years transitions. Building upon this review, the Practice Review identifies promising practices, strategies and gaps across Victoria.

A statewide survey was conducted, receiving 309 responses from early childhood education and care professionals, school principals and teachers and education policy and program staff. Focus group discussions and interviews were held with 126 professionals and 19 family members.

Both reviews emphasise the importance of:

  • developing meaningful partnerships with families experiencing vulnerability
  • transdisciplinary approaches to working with professionals and
  • building professionals' knowledge, skills and attitudes to effectively support children and families experiencing vulnerability as they transition to school.

For more information, see:

To read the full Rapid Literature Review, see:

To read the full Practice Review, see:

2016 - Impact of Gender on Transitions to School: A Review of the Literature

The Department commissioned John McCartin, Lecturer Early Childhood Education at Victoria University, to undertake a literature review that summarises evidence and provides strategies to address the differences that some boys and girls experience in their transition to school. The literature review was used to inform the revised Transition: A Positive Start to School Resource Kit.

The review found that most children irrespective of their gender navigate the transition from home and Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) services to primary school successfully.  There is also a significant body of educational and developmental research on gender, which suggests that boys and girls enter primary school with comparable levels of cognitive and academic skills, but with significant variance in their language, social, emotional and behavioural abilities. It has been suggested that when these variances are not effectively addressed that boys in particular are at greater risk of suffering from a poor transition, which can result in disengagement and/or poorer educational outcomes in their schooling.

To read the full literature review see: 

2016 - Supporting reciprocal visits for transition to school (Koorie focus)

The Department commissioned Semann & Slattery to deliver the Supporting Reciprocal Visits project across 2015 and 2016. The purpose was to increase understanding for early childhood educators and school teachers through collaboration and shared professional learning. The 2015-2016 Supporting Reciprocal Visits project focused on strengthening transitions for Koorie children and families.

The project aimed to improve the capacity of early childhood educators and school teachers to support Koorie children’s connection to Aboriginal culture during and after transitions, as well as create stronger relationships around children’s transition to school between teachers, educators, children, their families and communities.

The project implemented a learning program consisting of reciprocal visits and professional learning sessions at two sites in Victoria (Morwell and Mildura). Throughout 2015 and 2016, teachers and educators from neighbouring schools and early childhood programs worked together to build a better understanding of transition processes within and across their contexts.

To read the full reports, see:

2015 - Consultation final report - Transition: A Positive Start to School

Across the first half of 2015, Semann & Slattery, on behalf of the Department, conducted a series of consultations (the Consultation) across Victoria.

The Consultation obtained qualitative feedback from key stakeholders that will further strengthen the Department’s understanding of current transition approaches, including transition learning and development statements and supporting resources.

626 people contributed to the Consultation, and the Department would like to thank all those who contributed their valuable ideas and feedback at the face to face consultations as well as through the online survey.

To view the report, see:

To see a short overview of the findings, see: Transition to school executive summary

2015 - Supporting reciprocal visits for transition to school

The Department engaged Monash University and Semann & Slattery (in collaboration with Macquarie University) to deliver the Supporting Reciprocal Visits project across 2014 and 2015.

The purpose was to increase understanding for teachers through collaboration and shared professional learning. The project implemented a learning program consisting of reciprocal visits and professional learning sessions at four sites in Victoria (Carrum Downs, Bendigo, Banyan Fields and Puckapunyal).

Throughout 2014 and 2015, teachers and educators from neighbouring schools and early childhood programs worked together to build a better understanding of transition processes within and across their contexts. Data was collected from the participants about the effectiveness of the program, including focus groups, evaluation protocols and professional learning videos.

To read the full reports, see:

2014 - Continuity of learning

The Commonwealth Department of Education and Training released Continuity of Learning: a resource to support effective transition to school and school age care, developed by Charles Sturt University. The resource includes effective transition practices that reflect the experiences of children, families, educators and communities as they support transitions to school and school age care.

For more information, see: Continuity of learning

2014 - Journey to big school report

The Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC) undertook a series of consultations with early childhood education and care services, family support services and schools. The consulations investigated the practical implications and applications of the findings from an earlier literature review on the key enablers and barriers to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children experiencing a positive transition to primary school.

For more information, see: Journey to big school

2012 - Outcomes and indicators of A Positive Start to School: development of framework and tools

This world-leading research provides the first evidence to support an understanding of how to measure the outcomes and indicators of a positive transition to school.

Building on recommendations from the 2009 project, this research aimed to develop and test tools for measuring the outcomes and indicators of a positive transition to school for children, parents/families, early childhood educators and school teachers in Victoria.

The project was undertaken by the Centre for Community Child Health (Murdoch Childrens Research Institute and the Royal Children’s Hospital) in partnership with Victoria University (authors of the Outcomes and Indicators of a Positive Start to School) and the Clinical Epidemiological and Biostatistics Unit (CEBU) of the Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH).

For more information on the research findings, see:

2011 - Follow-up evaluation of the Transition: A Positive Start to School initiative

The Department conducted a follow-up evaluation to determine how specific groups - early childhood professionals, prep teachers and outside school hours care (OSHC) services - were engaging with the Transition: A Positive Start to School initiative in its second year. Highlight results showed that:

  • almost all prep teachers (96%) read the Transition Learning and Development Statements ('statement/s')
  • the vast majority of prep teachers (up to 91%) considered all sections of the statement as valuable and that they help support a positive start to school for children
  • early childhood professionals reported that the time spent writing statements was an improvement on the previous year
  • not all OSHC services are aware of the statements and fewer actually receive them, even though many OSHC services are located on school grounds and are involved in transition to school programs and activities.

Other interesting findings pointed to stronger relationships between early childhood and school professionals, and that early childhood professionals value acknowledgement and feedback as a way of improving the quality of information provided to prep teachers.

To view a copy of the 2011 follow up evaluation report, see:

2011 - Transition to School position statement

On 8 August 2011, Professor Alan Hayes, Director of the Australian Institute of Family Studies at Charles Sturt University Albury-Wodonga Campus, launched the Transition to School Position Statement; a valuable document for policy makers, practitioners and researchers alike to both promote and support a positive transition to school for all children.

To view or download the statement, see: Transition to School position statement

2010-2011 - Transition: A Positive Start to School

This action research project was undertaken in 15 sites, largely comprised of an early childhood service and a primary school, across Victoria. The research explored the efficacy of three promising practices - buddy programs, family involvement and reciprocal visits for educators - in supporting a positive transition to school for children, families and educators.

The project was undertaken by the Equity and Childhood Program, Youth Research Centre, Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne.

For more information, see:

2010 - Evaluation of the Transition: A Positive Start to School initiative

An evaluation of the Transition: A Positive Start to School initiative was conducted in 2010. The intention of the evaluation was to assess the effectiveness and sustainability of what has been designed to date and to inform refinements and further improvements to the initiative. The final evaluation report is now available.

The report contains 13 recommendations directed at the Department and three recommendations for professionals in the early childhood and schooling sectors, which aim to enhance the future implementation of the initiative.

For more information, see:

2009 - Outcomes and indicators of a positive start to school

Victoria University undertook research to identify the outcomes of a positive transition to school for children, their families and educators and to establish indicators to measure these outcomes.

For more information, see:

2008-2009 - Transition pilot evaluation

To inform government policy and expand the local evidence base on what works in supporting children’s transition to school, 30 pilots were funded though the Transition: A Positive Start to School initiative. The pilots trialled, or extended, a range of transition approaches in a diverse range of Victorian communities. The pilots ran from October 2008 to May 2009.

The University of Melbourne’s Centre for Program Evaluation (CPE) was commissioned to conduct an independent evaluation of the 30 transition to school pilots. A theory-based evaluation approach was used to inform the collection of a range of data on the perceptions and experience of implementing the pilots.

For more information about the pilots, see:

2008 - Transition literature review

The University of Melbourne's Centre for Equity and Innovation in Early Childhood (CEIEC) undertook a review of international literature concerning young children's transition to school.

The review addressed the question:

What are the key findings and issues for improving transition into prep for children, their families, local communities and early childhood education and care professionals in Victoria?

For more information, see:

2006-2012 - Linking Schools and Early Years (LSEY)

The Linking Schools and Early Years (LSEY) project is a partnership between:

  • The R.E. Ross Trust
  • Department of Education and Early Childhood Development
  • Centre for Community Child Health, and the
  • Murdoch Children’s Research Institute at the Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne.

LSEY was a six-year project (2006-2012) that sought to inform policy development, build research evidence and provide a model of practical, effective, low-cost, place-based strategies that enable schools, early years services, families and the community to work collaboratively to overcome barriers to children’s learning and development, and for children to arrive at school ready to engage and be successful at school.

The LSEY project complemented the Transition: A Positive Start to School initiative. For more information, see: Linking Schools and Early Years