Transition to School Strategies: Strengthening our practice to support whānau and tamariki

  • Kaye Hoffman


In 2017, we were privileged to be invited to participate in a Teacher Lead Innovation Fund (TLIF) project centred on strengthening assessment practices that support transition. As part of that process we examined the agency and role of whānau. This article outlines the implications of those findings on our design for an effective transition process. The research brief was to design a tool that would capture and communicate information to the primary school about transitioning tamariki. We reviewed literature to see was currently in use, both in New Zealand and internationally. We elected to cover the six months prior and six months following the move to primary school. We selected a cohort of 10 3-year olds with whom to trial the process. Key stakeholders from each group were interviewed and the research team used reflection and analysis tools to identify shifts in practice.

We quickly realised that we had a unique opportunity to construct a process for transition that actively involved families from start to finish. Our goal was to find a way to document children’s learning that truly strengthened partnership in the transition process. We wanted a transition tool that was relevant to individual children without being a tick box of skills and attitudes. Over the research period, we refined documentation, interactions and practice to enable whānau, teachers and tamariki to identify shifts in their understanding of what transition meant for them personally.

While we are still gathering data from the last of our research cohort to head off to school the results thus far have been positive. We believe that the transition process we have developed is a practical medium for strengthening relationships between whānau and both early childhood and primary education sectors. We will provide an overview of the research process, outcomes and implications in the sections that follow.

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