14 SES 09 A, Navigating Educational Journeys: School Transitions in New Zealand, Scotland and Sweden
Taking an international perspective, this symposium explores students’ educational journeys in three countries, New Zealand, Scotland and Sweden and considers some of the challenges and possibilities afforded by transition experiences. The emphasis is on deepening understanding of the students’ perspectives and what school transitions mean for those involved. The papers explore the initial transition to school in each country, transition to lower secondary in Sweden and a longitudinal study over 14 years of schooling in Scotland. The insights provided by the students’ stories are contextualized within the policies and practices of each country context.
The three papers draw on a range of theoretical frameworks. Bronfenbrenner’s ecological model, especially later iterations (e.g. Bronfenbrenner & Morris, 1997) draws attention to the ways in which educational journeys vary as a result of proximal processes; the interaction of individuals and their immediate and more remote environments over time. As students transition from one setting to another, each with its activities, roles and relationships (Bronfenbrenner, 1979), there can be a sense of crossing a cultural, as well as a physical border. The notion of ‘border crossing’ can therefore be relevant as children and their families navigate their transition journeys (Hartley et al., 2012; Peters, 2014). Within this, understanding how individuals are positioned by the interactions within a particular setting can add valuable explanatory insights into way the journeys are shaped and the differences between the children’s experiences. van Gennep’s (1908/1997) work on ‘rites of passage’ allows us to consider the various forms of ritual by which an individual comes to occupy a new position in a social structure. Fabian (2002) applied this idea to school entry, looking at the preliminal rites (rites of separation), liminal rites (rites of transition) and postliminal rites (rites of incorporation) that form this process. In addition concepts of transitions capital, readiness, ease and networks (Dunlop, 2014) will be considered.
The researchers presenting in this symposium are part of a four-year Marie Curie International Research Staff Exchange Scheme [IRSES] exploring Pedagogies of Educational Transitions (POET) in three European countries, Australia and New Zealand (with New Zealand-EU Counterpart Funding administered by the Royal Society of New Zealand). The POET project involves staff exchange and networking between teams of transition researchers from Mälardalen University, Sweden; University of Strathclyde, Scotland, UK; University of Iceland, Iceland; Charles Sturt University, Australia; and University of Waikato, New Zealand.
Each of the participating POET researchers is involved in programmes of research examining pedagogies of educational transition in their own country. POET provides the opportunity to extend their skills and expertise beyond these country projects to pose and address questions at the international, comparative level. This symposium offers comparison across the different country contexts as well as comparisons of different ages within each study.
Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The ecology of human development. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. Bronfenbrenner, U. & Morris, P. A. (1997). The ecology of developmental processes. In W. Damon & R. M. Lerner (Eds.) Handbook of child psychology: Vol. 1. Theoretical models of human development (5th ed., pp. 993-1029). New York: John Wiley. Brooker, L. (2002). Starting school – Young children’s learning cultures. Buckingham: Open University Press. Dunlop, A-W (2014) Thinking about Transitions - one Framework or many? Populating the theoretical model over time. In Perry, B., Dockett, S. & Petriwskyj, A. (editors) Starting School: Research policy and practice. Springer Fabian, H. (2002). Children starting school: A guide to successful transitions and transfers for teachers and assistants. London: David Fulton. Hartley, C., Rogers, P., Smith, J., Peters, S. & Carr, M. (2012). Crossing the border: a community negotiates the transition from early childhood to primary school. Wellington: NZCER. Peters, S. (2014). Chasms, bridges and borderlands: A transitions research ‘across the border’ from early childhood education to school in New Zealand. In Perry, B., Dockett, S. & Petriwskyj, A. (Eds.) Transition to school: International research, policy and practice (pp.105-116). New York: Springer. van Gennep, A. (1997). Rites of Passage. (M. B. Vizedom, & G. L. Caffee, Trans.). London: Routledge & Kegan Paul (Original work published in French 1908).
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