Transfer & Transition

Transfer and transition is a targeted intervention which is flexible and tailored to suit the needs of a group. For example to support transition from primary school to post primary school which is, a crucial stage in a young person’s schooling career. Tullow Community School has developed a comprehensive transfer and transition programme for incoming first years.



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TCS has developed innovative approaches to transfer and transition, such as:

  •    Holding joint primary and post-primary staff meetings to discuss issues and develop ideas in relation to transfer and transition.
  •    Continuing with subject theme in first year of post primary which were started in the last term of 6th class.
  •    Having a 1st year introduction programme.
  •    Developing transition programmes that span first year and extent into second year.
  •    Explicitly teaching social and emotional literacy skills, behaviour for learning skills and learning and thinking skills to 1st year students.
  •    Building on and linking with literacy programmes taught at primary.
  •    Developing peer mentoring and learning mentoring support systems.

Tullow Community School works with schools to develop comprehensive transition and transfer programmes as the move from primary to post-primary has been noted as a crucial stage in a young person’s educational career.  Hargreaves (1996) highlighted how transfer is a time of triple transition as students negotiate the move from childhood to adolescence, from one institutional context to another and from established social groups into new social relations.

A large body of research exists that highlights how transfer and transition makes a difference to students’ progress. For example, Rudduck et al. (1999) point out that the social upheavals of the move to post-primary are “…so preoccupy that it is difficult for students, unless the school intervenes in a positive way,to focus on the ‘seriousness of learning’. If students are no helped during the early period of their new schools to sustain their excitement about learning and develop individual routines for managing learning, then they may have difficulties with progress later.” The decline in progress, and in commitment to and engagement with learning and school, can occur not just at the point of transfer from one school to another but also at point of transition within a school, from one year to another.

In Ireland ‘Moving Up: The Experiences of First Year Students in Post-Primary Education’ (Smith et al., 2004) examined the experiences of over 900 students in their first year of post-primary and highlighted how schools can case the transition to post-primary education. For example by:

  • Developing links with feeder primary schools so that students become familiar with their new school.
  • Having an induction day,specific personnel (such as class tutor) and student mentors who act as a‘buddy’ for younger students, to help students to settle into new schools and progress academically.
  • Having effective anti-bullying policies and structures to involve teachers and students in decision making within the school in order to bring about a positive school climate – the research showed that many first year students reported being bullied by other students.
  • Developing greater links between the primary and post-primary sectors through common elements of teacher training, transfer information on the curriculum covered, co-operation in curriculum development and the transfer of good practice relating to teaching methods.
  • Proving ‘taster’ programmes to incoming 1st years.
  • Providing a range of students with a more practical emphasis to promote students interested in school.
  • Monitoring progress and targeting support in the early phase of first year. Over one tenth of the students surveyed in the report received learning support in first year. However, a third of those who did not receive such help would have liked extra support with their lessons.

The move to post primary also occurs at a particular stage of development. Over the last decade, much research has focused on the particular needs of early adolescents and on effective teaching and learning in these years of schooling. Early adolescents (11yrs-15yrs) is seen as a particular phase of development, a time when there are changes incognition, changes in friend and peer relationships , changes in family relationships, as well as physical change. To accommodate the developmental needs of young adolescents as well as to facilitate continuity of learning from primary to second level there is a need for stimulating and nurturing learning environment e.g. creative timetabling, curriculum delivery, flexible use of space and innovative teaming of teachers and students.

The Five Bridges of Transition

The communication of pupil records both persona; and academic and administrative meetings between schooling staff. Includes work samples, reports, parent meetings.

To ensure that primary pupils become familiar with their secondary school prior to transition and feel comfortable and confident with the changes of teachers, keys school routines, new peer group and physical surroundings. Includes, for example: transfer passports or diaries, identifying and responding to student’s anxieties, recognising and dealing with relationships and friendships issues,tackling bullying and the fear of bullying, creating a culture where achievement is valued, mentor/buddy system.

To ensure curriculum continuity between phases so that post primary teachers can develop existing levels of achievements and attainment rather than seeing the secondary curriculum as a ‘blank slate’. Includes for example: teachers in 6thclass and 1st year knowing and understanding the curriculum taught by each other, teacher observations across schools, creating bridging units that link work started in 6th class and further developed in 1styear, joint primary and post primary CPD focused on transition and transfer ,developing learning mentor system.

To develop cross phase links between teachers of 6th class and 1st year to ensure a consistency in pedagogic approaches in the classroom. Includes: teaching styles and skills, learning styles, learner profiles or passports, using methodologies familiar to students as well as engaging students in new ways of teaching and learning, building on and developing students’ learning skills and strategies,etc.

To ensure that students are aware of the challenges of transition and are given the opportunity to male their own decisions and too add their voice as active participants. To best facilitate their own learning students need to be given strategies which will develop and enhance their ‘learning skills’ and actively encourage them to become ‘professional learners’. Includes: helping students understand the criteria for success in various aspects of their school life,helping students understand how learning in the early years of second level can impact on future learning, identifying and communicating the learning needs of individuals students, advising staff on the strategies that can be used to address these issue, developing learning mentor systems, etc.

There are 3 days of induction in which the tutors and other staff work with incoming 1st years. They cover the following issues:

  •   Coping With Change
  •   Homework & Study Skills
  •   Finding My Way Around, Who’s Who in School
  •   New School & Organising Skills
  •   Behaviour for Learning
  •   Making new friends Forming New Relationships
  •   Being Safe In School
  •   New Subject & Thinking Skills