Sense of belonging vital to high school success

BIG CHANGES: The move from primary to secondary school can be an emotional time.
BIG CHANGES: The move from primary to secondary school can be an emotional time.

The transition from primary to secondary school marks a significant change for most students.

It usually involves an adjustment to a new, generally larger school, where students go from being the oldest the youngest.

Students in secondary school have multiple classes with different teachers and classmates, as well as an increase in workload, responsibilities and travel to and from school.

According to a study by the Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation, how well students cope with the transition to secondary school can have ongoing implications for their emotional and academic development.

The study goes on to say that a sense of school belonging is also important to broader wellbeing outcomes.

"It has been positively associated with higher levels of happiness, self-esteem, improved coping skills and lower emotional distress, and inversely related to incidents of disruptive behaviour, bullying and risk-taking behaviours," the report said.

A survey titled Tell Them From Me conducted among NSW primary and secondary students in 2015 and 2016 highlighted the importance of primary schools fostering a strong sense of belonging in their senior students before their transition to secondary school.

Parents also play an important role in supporting students during the transition to secondary school.

Students who have a family member to talk to about problems or friendship issues at school are more likely to report a positive sense of belonging in Year 7.