Planning and preparation

One of the most important factors in successful transition is the relationship between primary and secondary schools.

A strong relationship between a secondary school and its feeder primary schools can facilitate smooth transitions. A partnering or cluster approach can also help address any professional barriers between primary and secondary schools that may impact on the continuity of learning and the achievement of students.

A Toolkit has been developed to assist schools to develop cluster approaches. See Toolkit Transition Clusters (docx - 858.91kb).

The steps and resources below provide an overview of the Toolkit.

Step 1: Identify current process at your school

Before meeting with your cluster group, it is essential to gather information about your students and teachers. Questions to consider include:

  • are there any areas where students have a performance dip?
  • ​what are the gaps in student learning and how to address these? How many students are likely to face transition difficulties?
  • what are your teachers’ opinions about the quality of your current transition arrangements?
  • what are your teachers’ experiences of transitions? Are they new to the school and therefore may not understand their role in transition?
  • do your teachers know what best practice is?

Tools and resources

A number of tools are available to help you gather and analyse this information and identify strategies:

Step 2: Identify cluster group

Usually clusters consist of one secondary school and between four to eight primary schools.

To become an effective cluster, teams must become productive working groups that are built on trusting relationships. Members need to meet regularly and be engaged in cluster processes. So school proximity and membership size are factors that need to be considered.

Natural cluster groupings

In some locations it is obvious which schools should form the transition cluster as there is only one secondary school to transition to.  A natural grouping is one where the majority of a primary school’s exits are enrolled in a neighbouring secondary school where these exits provide the school with a ‘significant proportion’ of its new enrolments. 

Complex cluster groupings

In some areas, cluster composition may not be easy to determine as destination patterns reveal that students are exiting to a wide range of secondary schools and that enrolments are derived from small intakes of students from many primary schools. In such situations the perspective of the secondary school generally takes precedence. 

Step 3: Identify personnel to attend cluster meetings​


In the initial stages school leadership is heavily involved in determining the strategies to be included in the Cluster Transition Strategy.

Principal participation is important as transition commitments need to be negotiated to achieve cluster-wide agreement about what needs to be done to overcome transition discontinuities. 

As cluster strategies become accepted practice, leadership participation need not be as intense.

Teachers and administration staff

Schools generally nominate a staff member to be the Transition Coordinator. Their involvement is essential but not sufficient. 

Equally important is the participation of Year 6 and 7 teachers as they will be responsible for implementing many of the transition strategies. Release time should also be provided so Year 6 and 7 teachers are able to attend meetings and engage in discussions about transition concerns and how to address them. 

Step 4: Hold regular cluster meetings

Monthly meetings are generally needed to progress the development of a cluster transition strategy. 

Some questions that the cluster schools are advised to investigate:

  • ​how are students fairing as they move from primary to secondary school?
  • what are Year 6 and 7 teachers’ opinions about transition processes?
  • what transition strategies are provided for teachers, students and parents?
  • what needs to be done to improve transition outcomes?

Step 5: Create a cluster collaboration strategy

Many strategies that are a component of an individual school’s transition strategy plan will also be relevant for a Cluster Transition Strategic Plan. 

Discussions of the implications of schools’ student data and the findings from the teacher opinion survey, school practice audit and gap analysis survey will have surfaced many ideas and proposals for improving cluster transition arrangements.

These transition priorities emerging from the data need to be collated, discussed and tested for their likely benefits and implementation issues. Once strategies have been identified as meeting an important transition they need to be marshalled into a Cluster Strategic Plan. 

Questions to ask in order to ensure the strategy becomes actionable include: 

  • what priority is the strategy addressing?
  • will it have a strong impact?
  • is it practical - can it be implemented?
  • do its benefits outweigh implementation difficulties?
  • what is the expected timeline for implementation?
  • how will it be implemented?
  • who will be responsible for implementation?
  • what resources will be needed?
  • how will the strategy be evaluated?​

Tools and resources

A number of tools are available to help you with establishing priorities:

Step 6: Document cluster transition plan

The Cluster strategy is an overarching document that includes strategies that all cluster schools have agreed to implement. Individual school transition strategies will include all those actions from the cluster strategy that the school has committed to implementing and actions that are a part of the school’s response to local transition circumstances.​

​​The following tool provides a framework for documenting transitions plans:

Once sign off has been received from leader of all schools involved, schools can develop: Transition and orientation activities​