Transitioning from Preschool to Primary School

Transitioning from Preschool to Primary School

Moving to primary school is an important part of every child’s life. There is increased emphasis on the importance of supporting children’s transition from preschool to primary school and this has also been a key focus of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA).  In line with international best practice the transition to school is regarded as a process, not an event. This process starts long before children start school.

“Moving from an EYS to school is, literally, a giant leap for young children. The transition marks a change in the way children participate in both their family and community. Children will make many transitions during their lives, and supporting them at this important milestone will have long-term benefits. Some children start primary school with enthusiasm and confidence; others find this transition stressful and difficult. Research suggests that approximately one-third of children experience some difficulties as they transition to primary school. These issues can have negative social and academic implications. It is vital, therefore, to give children positive experiences from the beginning. When transitions work well they help children to develop confidence and acquire skills to manage future changes in their lives. Planned activities that address the differences children and families will experience are key to a quality transition process” (ABC Start Right Limerick, 2018)


The following newly developed resources from the NCCA, AIM, ABC Start Right Limerick, and Aistear Síolta Practice Guide, will guide you in supporting children’s transition process to school.

NCCA Reporting Templates

The NCCA worked with preschools and primary schools to develop the Mo Scéal: Moving from Preschool to Primary templates for sharing information about children’s learning and development as they finish preschool and begin primary school. Mo Scéal means ‘my story’ and the templates help to tell the story of the child’s learning and development. This information will be shared with parents and, with parents’ consent, shared with the primary school.

The Mo Scéal templates are a resource which preschools and schools might find helpful as they collaborate in supporting young children and their families at this key transition.

The templates are available in two formats so that preschools can choose how to share information. In each format, only Section 1: Practitioner is different, as outlined below.

Template 1 provides space for narrative descriptions based on Aistear’s four themes.

Mo Scéal: Moving from Preschool to Primary Information for practitioners Template 1:
https://www.ncca.ie/media/3796/mo_sceal_information-for-practitioners-template-1.pdf

Template 1-Mo Scéal: Moving from Preschool to Primary:
https://www.ncca.ie/media/3821/mo-sceal-template-1_int.pdf

Template 2 provides ten statements related to each of Aistear’s four themes accompanied by a 4-point rating scale. Sections 2, 3 and 4 are identical in both template formats.

Mo Scéal: Moving from Preschool to Primary Information for practitioners Template 2:
https://www.ncca.ie/media/3797/mo_sceal_information-for-practitioners-template-2.pdf 

Template 2- Mo Scéal: Moving from Preschool to Primary:
https://www.ncca.ie/media/3822/mo-sceal-template-2_int.pdf

There are a number of additional resources to guide you in this process, including:

A timeline resource outlining the Roles and Responsibility, what actions to take and when: ‘Mo Scéal: Moving from Preschool to Primary, Timeline and processes’:
https://www.ncca.ie/media/3800/mo_sceal_timeline-and-processes.pdf

Sharing information between the preschool and the primary school in line with GDPR: Mo Scéal: Moving from Preschool to Primary, Data sharing agreement:
https://www.ncca.ie/media/3803/data-sharing-agreement_2018.pdf

Mo Scéal: Moving from Preschool to Primary, Documentation request:
https://www.ncca.ie/media/3795/mo_sceal_documentation_request.pdf

Information for parents/guardians: Mo Scéal: Moving from Preschool to Primary:
https://www.ncca.ie/media/3794/mo_sceal_-information-for-parents.pdf

Information for teachers: Mo Scéal: Moving from Preschool to Primary, Information for teachers:
https://www.ncca.ie/media/3798/mo_sc%C3%A9al_information-for-teachers.pdf

Mo Scéal: Moving from Preschool to Primary, Information overview for teachers
https://www.ncca.ie/media/3799/mo_sc%C3%A9al_information-overview-table-for-teachers.pdf

Suggested activities for preschools to support a positive transition to school. As transition is a process over many months, ideas for fun and engaging activities are also available:
https://www.ncca.ie/media/3755/suggested-transition-activities-for-preschools.pdf

Joint transition activities for preschools and primary schools:
https://www.ncca.ie/media/3757/joint-transition-activities-for-preschools-and-primary-schools-7.pdf

Access and Inclusion Model (AIM)

Transition planning needs to begin well in advance of a child’s planned progression to Primary or Special education, depending on the complexity of the child’s needs. It should begin at least a year before or possibly earlier if specialist equipment or environmental adaptations are required. The Access and Inclusion Model have developed a transitioning resource specifically to support children who have accessed support on the Access and Inclusion Model (AIM). This 9 page form includes: the child’s Key Relationships; the child’s Strengths, Interests and Participation; Goals for the child; Progress; and a Transition to School Plan.

To access the Plan and the guidelines for completing it, Please click on
‘My Access and Inclusion Plan: Supporting Access to the ECCE Programme for all children’:
http://aim.gov.ie/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/guidelines-for-completing-an-individual-access-and-inclusion-plan.pdf
Also, see attached the guidelines to support you in completing this Access and Inclusion Plan.


Ambitions For Transitions
A Guide to Support Every Child’s Progression from Early Years Services to Primary School (ABC Start Right Limerick, 2018)


Area Based Childhood (ABC) Start Right Limerick produced these useful publications which offer guidance for:
• Families
• Early years practitioners
• Teachers of junior infant classes

The resources provide practical suggestions along with a useful calendar to prompt all involved to support transitions at the appropriate time.

A guide for families, early years practitioners and junior infant teachers
Ambitions For Transitions: A Guide to Support Every Child’s Progression from Early Years Services to Primary School (ABC Start Right Limerick, 2018)
https://www.paulpartnership.ie/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Transition-Report-ABC-Start-Right-Web-.pdf

Family Transitions Resource pack: Tips for Parents
Family Transition Resource Pack Ambitions For Transitions: Tips for parents to support every child’s progression Early Years Services to Primary School
https://www.paulpartnership.ie/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Family-Transition-Resource-Pack.pdf


Aistear Síolta Practice Guide: Supporting Transitions Pillar of Practice

Within the ‘Supporting Transitions’, Pillar of Practice in the ‘Aistear Síolta Practice Guide’: http://aistearsiolta.ie/en/Transitions/ there are a whole range of resources, videos, podcasts, self-evaluation tool: http://aistearsiolta.ie/en/Transitions/Supporting-transitions-Self-evaluation-Tool.pdf  and tip sheets to support the process including:

• Important dispositions for the transition to primary school (Video/podcast) https://player.vimeo.com/video/185649469
• Sharing information on children's learning and development between preschools and primary schools’(Video/podcast) https://player.vimeo.com/video/185649346
• Curriculum continuity (Video/podcast) https://player.vimeo.com/video/185649345
• Professional conversations between practitioners and teachers(Video/podcast) https://player.vimeo.com/video/185649326
• The kinds of experiences that are important for children in the early years of primary school(Video/podcast) https://player.vimeo.com/video/185649343

Key Reading on Transitions:

http://aistearsiolta.ie/en/Transitions/

Crossing the border: a Community negotiates the transition from early childhood to primary school. Hartley, Rogers, Smith, Peters and Carr. NZCER Press (2012)

Dunlop, A-W., & Fabian, H., 2007. Informing Transitions in the early years: Research, Policy and Practice. London: Open University Press.