Social and academic adjustment during the transition process from primary to secondary school
: What are the perceptions of teachers, students and parents about the challenges students face in the transition from primary to secondary education in a British-international school in São Paulo, Brazil, and what strategies could be put in place to help them cope with such challenges?

  • Christopher Newton

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Education (EdD)


The transition from primary to secondary school not only presents challenges, but opportunities for students. Important factors to consider during this process are the academic and social changes that occur within this particular phase in a child’s life. Hence, this thesis will investigate social and academic adjustments during this transition and outline effective practices that enhance transition programmes.

A three-year empirical research was carried out at St. Paul’s School, São Paulo Brazil, a K-12 overseas UK school that has been accredited by the British government. Through a mixed methods research, which included web-based questionnaires and interviews with students, teachers and parents, the strengths and weaknesses in the transition experience were revealed. These findings will be analysed against the theories of philosophers and educators, as well as recent social science research in this field.

The thesis is structured in the following way: the literature review contains a section on transition from primary to secondary schools and a section on transition in the context of international schools. Methodological considerations, data collection and analysis ensue, leading to an evaluation section, followed by suggested strategies that could be put in place to help students cope with the challenges of transition.

This research unravels key elements of transition such as the duration of the transition process, the influence of the environment on students’ experiences, the impact of social exchanges on student adjustment, as well as academic achievement and future recommendations.
As a result, suggestions will be offered on schemes, structures, and strategies to welcome and support transitioning students within the context of St. Paul’s School and other similar educational establishments. Above all, this study will highlight that transition should be perceived as a concept which encompasses both event and process, as such discourse sheds light to its importance in education.
Date of Award19 Jun 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorTristan Bunnell (Supervisor) & Janet Goodall (Supervisor)


  • transition

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