Transition Project

(September 2013 – August 2016)

Moving from primary to secondary school can be a stressful time for all young people, due to organisational and structural differences in the schools, as well as the need to form new relationships with a largely unfamiliar peer group. Young people with autism spectrum conditions (ASC) may find this amount of change and the increased social demands especially daunting, and yet little research so far has focused on this transition. The aim of this project was therefore to explore the impact and experience of the primary to secondary school transition for young people with autism. The research was generously funded and supported by the Leverhulme Trust and the University of Manchester Simon Early Career Fellowships.

Thirty-eight students with ASC and twenty-two typically-developing (TD) students, their parents and teachers completed questionnaires before, during, and after the transition: in the final term of Y6 (primary school), at the end of the first term of Y7 (first year of secondary school), during the third term of Y7, and at the end of the first term of Y8. Participants were drawn from mainstream and special schools across North West England and North Wales. Questionnaires on school connectedness and hopes for the future were conducted with students, while a quality of life measure was used with students, parents and teachers. In addition, there were ten case studies, involving interviews with young autistic students, their parents and teachers.

Visits to schools finished at the end of 2015, and analysis of the questionnaires and interviews have begun. Findings are broadly optimistic, with most of the young autistic people experiencing a positive transition. This does not mean that transition was successful for every student, or that students did not encounter significant challenges along the way. However, the findings indicate that a successful transition is possible with appropriate preparation and support.

 

You can read about the project findings in the documents below:

Summary final report for parents and schools (3 pages). This contains recommendations for schools and advice for parents.

Full final report for parents and schools (20 pages). This contains more detailed information about the questionnaire and interview findings. Please email me for a copy of the final report.

Feedback for students (2 pages). Please email me for a copy of the feedback for students.

Interim report for parents and schools (2 pages). This feedback was sent to parents and schools after the first two (of four) visits to schools.

Previous studies on primary to secondary school transition

Previous studies on primary to secondary school transition. Articles marked with an asterisk can be accessed in full free of charge. For the other articles, a link to the abstract is provided. Authors often have a limited number of copies of the article that they can send to people free of charge, so if you are particularly interested in a subscription-only article, it may be worth contacting the lead author in person.

  • Students with autism transitioning from primary to secondary schools: parents’ perspectives and experiences.
    Tso, M., & Strnadová, I.
    International Journal of Inclusive Education, 1-15. doi: 10.1080/13603116.2016.1197324
    Publication year: 2016
    View abstract
  • Parental perspectives on the transition to secondary school for students with Asperger syndrome and high‐functioning autism: a pilot survey study.
    Peters, R., & Brooks, R.
    British Journal of Special Education, 43(1), 75-91.
    Publication year: 2016
    View abstract
  • * Easing the transition to secondary education for children with autism spectrum disorder: An evaluation of the Systemic Transition in Education Programme for Autism Spectrum Disorder (STEP-ASD).
    Mandy, W., Murin, M., Baykaner, O., Staunton, S., Cobb, R., Hellriegel, J., … & Skuse, D.
    Autism, 20(5), 580-590.
    Publication year: 2016
    View full article
  • * The transition from primary to secondary school in mainstream education for children with autism spectrum disorder.
    Mandy, W., Murin, M., Baykaner, O., Staunton, S., Hellriegel, J., Anderson, S., & Skuse, D.
    Autism, 1362361314562616.
    Publication year: 2015
    View full article
  • Transition to secondary school: a comparison of parents’ and pupils’ concerns.
    Coles, J
    Good Autism Practice, 15, 70-80.
    Publication year: 2014
    View abstract
  • Parental perspectives of students with autism spectrum disorders transitioning from primary to secondary school in the United Kingdom.
    Dillon, G. V., & Underwood, D. M.
    Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 27, 111-121.
    Publication year: 2012
    View abstract
  • * Anxiety levels in students with autism specrtum disorder: making the transition from primary to secondary school.
    Hannah, E. F., & Topping, K. J.
    Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities, 47, 198-209.
    Publication year: 2012
    View full article
  • * A qualitative examination of parental experiences of the transition to mainstream secondary school for children with an autism spectrum disorder.
    Tobin, H., Staunton, S., Mandy, W., Skuse, D., Helligreil, J., Baykaner, O., . . . Murin, M.
    Educational and Child Psychology, 29, 72-83.
    Publication year: 2012
    View full article
  • Secondary transition experiences for pupils with Autistic Spectrum conditions (ASCs).
    Dann, R.
    Educational Psychology in Practice, 27, 293-312.
    Publication year: 2011
    View abstract
  • * Autistic Spectrum Disorders and Primary-Secondary Transition.
    Jindal-Snape, D., Douglas, W., Topping, K. J., Kerr, C., & Smith, E. F.
    International Journal of Special Education, 21(2), 18-31.
    Publication year: 2006
    View full article

Resources for primary to secondary school transition

Please note that these links are for resources that I have found interesting and potentially useful. I do not have any affiliation to the authors, nor do I receive any commission if they are purchased.