Growing Up in New Zealand: Transition to school

Date published
15 Jun 2018
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This report is part of the Growing Up in New Zealand longitudinal study and was prepared by the University of Auckland.

It provides unique insights into how children in the study are transitioning to primary school and the factors associated with a positive and negative transition from their mothers’ perspectives. Starting school is an important milestone for every child and their family, and this report gives us insight into what contributes to making that process more positive or challenging, from the perspective of the cohort parents.

Generally, the children were ready to start school and settled relatively quickly - around 90 percent of mothers reported being satisfied or very satisfied with the effect their child’s current school was having on their educational, social, emotional and physical needs.

For the children, the most common difficulties included adapting to a new routine, being separated from family and getting used to new rules.

Other findings:

  • About 25% of the children have experienced a Modern Learning Environment (MLE) within their current school. MLEs feature open, flexible learning spaces and access to technology. Over half have experienced the Milk for Schools programme and 10% have a breakfast club at their school.
  • 77% of the children lived within 5km of their school and, while one in four regularly used forms of active transport such as walking, biking or scootering to and from school, the majority (68%) travelled by car.
  • 88% percent of mothers reported some form of regular (formal or informal) parental involvement in their child’s school.
  • 98% of the children had attended some form of early childhood education in the six months before starting school and had visited their new school before starting.
  • Around 10% of the children moved schools at least once during their first year of primary school. Existing research shows that moving schools more than twice a year may have a negative impact on children’s learning and behaviour. Moving schools was more common for children who identified as Māori, Pacific or Asian, and for children living in homes in high deprivation areas.
  • 25% of mothers also reported their child had at least one change in classroom teacher.

The GUiNZ study is based at the University of Auckland’s Centre for Longitudinal Research – He Ara ki Mua. The report on was produced by the University of Auckland with Crown funding managed by the Ministry of Social Development and Superu.

Last update: 15 Jun 2018