Transition from primary to secondary school: experiences and psychosocial functioning of pupils with learning disabilities, specific learning difficulties and typically developing pupils

Laura Hughes, P. Banks, Melody Terras

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

Abstract

School can be challenging for pupils with learning disabilities and difficulties as they may face problems with both the learning and social demands. Inclusion of these pupils in research and policy is vital to ensure they can be provided with meaningful supports. Although a substantial body of research has documented the primary to high school transitional experiences of typically developing pupil, less attention has been given to the experience of pupils with learning disabilities and difficulties. The literature suggests the transition from primary to high school warrants further research as these pupils may have poorer psychosocial functioning (Terras, Thompson & Minnus, 2009; Wilson, 2007), perceive less social support (Martinez, 2006; Forgan & Vaughn, 2000; Evangelous, Taggart, Sylva, Melhuish, Sammons & Siraj- Blatchford, 2008) and be more adversely affected by the environmental changes of the transition than typically developing pupils (Wilson, 2007; Maras & Aveling, 2006). Using a quasi-longitudinal mixed methods design, pupils with a learning disability, a specific learning difficulty and typically developing pupils (n=18) in primary seven will be recruited and followed up through their transition to a mainstream high school. Pupil’s experiences of transition, available support and psychosocial functioning will be explored through interviews and standardised measures conducted with pupils, parents and key school staff before and after the transition to high school. This paper presents the findings from a review of relevant literature and a pilot study involving four children. Discussion focuses on the findings from the pilot interviews, including the experiences and outcomes of pupils with learning disabilities and difficulties before and after the transition to high school, and the suitability of the methods used. The pilot study has informed the development of specific hypothesis that will be tested in the main study as well as highlighting the importance of carefully designed qualitative or mixed methodology studies, based on multiple informants’ ratings, as a necessary first step towards understanding the psychosocial needs of children with learning disabilities and difficulties making the transition to high school.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 25 Nov 2010
EventScottish Educational Research Association Annual Conference 2010: Integrating for Impact - Educational Research, Policy and Practices - Stirling Highland Hotel, Stirling, United Kingdom
Duration: 25 Nov 201026 Nov 2010

Conference

ConferenceScottish Educational Research Association Annual Conference 2010
Abbreviated titleSERA Annual Conference 2010
CountryUnited Kingdom
CityStirling
Period25/11/1026/11/10

Keywords

  • psychosocial
  • resilience
  • learning disabilities
  • additional support needs

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