Yvonne Skipper & Karen M. Douglas
School transition: negative outcomes associated with selective transfer systems.

Author: Yvonne Skipper & Karen M. Douglas, Royal Holloway University.

Title: “School transition: negative outcomes associated with selective transfer systems”

yvonne.skipper@rhul.ac.uk

Abstract
The transfer from primary to secondary school can be a negative experience for children, often leading to a drop in school grades, decreased motivation and engagement. We argue that the system of transfer, and particularly conceptions of control, may influence how children cope with the transfer. We examine the potential influence of two different secondary school transfer systems – geographical catchment or selective entrance exam – on children’s feelings about secondary school. In the geographical catchment system children attend the school closest to their home. However, in the entrance exam system children are given the option of sitting an entrance exam which, if they pass, will allow them to apply for a place in the higher achieving grammar schools. Whether children take the exam is often based on teacher perceptions of how likely they are to pass. All children (N=137 aged around 10) were assessed at two time points, at time 1 children in the exam system had decided whether to take the optional entrance exam, at time 2 children in the exam system had received their exam results. At each time children completed measures of locus of control, self-esteem, theory of intelligence, and feelings about the school system. The geographical catchment system led to more positive outcomes for children when compared to the entrance exam system. Further, within the entrance exam system, at Time 1, children who intended to take the exam showed more positive outcomes than those who did not. Similarly at Time 2 children who had passed the exam showed more positive outcomes than those who had failed or had not taken the exam. Those who failed the exam were indistinguishable from those who had not taken the exam. This study highlights the important role of selection procedure on children’s feelings about the transfer from primary to secondary school.

 
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Centro en Investigación Avanzada en Educación