Students Transitioning Effectively from Primary to Secondary (S.T.E.P.S)

Transitioning from the primary to secondary level is an important period in the lives of adolescents. These students encounter a diverse range of issues and opportunities at this time. Helping them to optimise the opportunities and traverse the challenges will allow them to enjoy this natural step in life. Well-designed approaches can assist in this process by supporting students, their families and school staff in making this transition a positive experience. The STEPS programme is designed to equip students with the knowledge, skills and attitude to make this transition effectively.

The STEPS programme will be implemented at primary schools through face to face sessions. Schools will design their own programme using resources provided by the MoE and partnering stakeholders. Some of our partners include:

  • Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management
  • National Training Agency
  • Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission
  • Ministry of Digital Transformation
  • Strengthen the basic learnings from the primary curriculum to make a strong foundation for new learnings at the secondary level.
  • Enhance the major 21st century skills students require to function effectively at the secondary level.
  • Provide students with positive experiences where they can practice the values, attitudes and behaviours they require to contribute positively to their homes, schools, communities and country.
  • Expose students to some of the procedures and experiences that are vital to navigating secondary school.

Standard 5 students who wrote the SEA

May – June 2024 (6- weeks)

DateDetails of Event
13th March 2024Principal sensitisation session

347 principals were sensitised to the STEPS 2024 programme offerings. Mrs. Vashti Ramdeen-Steele (SSIII) brought greetings on behalf of the Director of School Supervision. A recording of this session can be found in the Toolkit
16th – 24th April 2024Teacher sensitisation sessions
13th May 2024Beginning of STEPS Programme in schools
21st June 2024 End of STEPS Programme in schools
July 2024Upload school portfolios
  • For 2023 Student Portfolios >> click here
  • For 2024 Student Portfolios>> click here

Teachers should be aware of the changes that students experience as they transition from primary to secondary so they can offer support.  Some of the changes that teachers can ease are the adjustments students have to make based on the ways schools operate.  Moving from primary to secondary school students will be confronted with adjustments to the size of the school compound, the number of students in a class, how lessons are conducted, the movement to get to class for different subjects, the timetabling, the expectations and teaching styles of multiple teachers, and their accessibility to teachers.  Akos (2002) found that expectations, procedures, and rules were a major concern for students as they moved from a highly structured to less structured environment. 

Helping students to understand the procedures and rules of the new school can better prepare them to meet expectations and transition effectively.  Students were also found to be concerned about relationships with their peers and teachers (Cauley & Jovanovich, 2006).  Addressing these concerns is vital as Bellmore (2011) and Kingery, Erdley, and Marshall (2011) suggest that social relationships greatly impact academic performance at this transitional period.  Considering the changes that students face when transitioning, addressing their concerns and bridging the gap between what will be expected from them in secondary school compared to what was expected of them in primary school will assist students in effectively maneuvering this transition.

Teacher Toolkit >> click here *(@fac account required to access)

Transitioning from primary to secondary school is a very complex time for adolescents.  They may experience physical, intellectual, social, emotional, and moral changes at this time (Cauley & Jovanovich, 2006; Eccles & Wigfield, 1997; Jackson & Davis, 2000).  Students are expected to navigate changes in the way schools operate, the numerous expectations multiple teachers have of them as well as the changes their bodies are experiencing as they mature.  They are also expected to have computer skills, work independently, manage time effectively, be responsible for assignments and homework from multiple teachers, be self-directed and self-regulated.  These students are also adjusting to physical and emotional changes as their bodies transition into puberty.  The movement from primary to secondary school also has a social component as students are in a new social environment where they may know no one and therefore must make new friends and find their niche and social circle.  Traversing all these shifts may be easier for some students than it is for others. 

Parents need to be mindful that this is a transitional period for their child/ward and support them as they navigate this period.  Parents can:

  • Encourage self-advocacy- adolescents need to learn to speak up for themselves and know how to ask for what they need in a respectful manner. Encourage your child to contact the teacher when requiring clarification on assignments or when they cannot meet a deadline. Brainstorm with your child about what to say in the conversation, email or message. Teach your child to use the office as a resource to report incidents with peers. Help your child to frame reports and ensure they provide factual statements and plausible evidence. You can follow up with the teacher, dean, principal to see if your child spoke to them concerning the matter.
  • Allow the child to learn from his/her mistakes- adolescents need to suffer the consequences of their actions. Do not always rescue your child when s/he forgets the assignment at home or doesn’t finish the homework. Let your child get detention or a poor grade for being unprepared so s/he can change his/her habits. Instead ask your child about what s/he learned, how hard s/he is working and what support is needed.
  • Encourage positive risk-taking- adolescents will be exposed to lots of new activities and people. They should embrace this adventure and become comfortable with taking positive risks such as trying a new sport, joining a club, and expanding their circle of friends. You should praise your child’s effort and courage to try something new.
  • Keep communication and connection strong- your child may try to push you away to become more independent, but you need to find creative ways to stay connected. Ask your child about interesting or funny things that happened each day. If you allow your child to be on social media use this medium to have conversations and share ideas, carve out time to spend together by watching a movie, listening to music or engaging in a favourite recreation of the child’s choice.
ActivityDetails of Activity
IBM CourseUse the link to register your child to take part in activities which help them to develop their computer skills. Your child can get a certificate from IBM on completion of the course. RSC Activities – IBM Skills Build
Parental SessionsThe Student Support Services Division of the Ministry of Education will be hosting parenting sessions at your child’s school. Look out for the information from the school

Akos, P. (2002). Student perceptions of the transition from elementary to middle school. Professional School Counseling, 5(5), 339-345.

Bellmore, A. (2011). Peer rejection and unpopularity: Associations with GPAs across the transition to middle school. Journal of Educational Psychology, 103(2), 282-289.

Kingery, J., Erdley, C. A., & Marshall, K. C. (2011). Peer acceptance and friendship as predictors of early adolescents’ adjustment across the middle school transition. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 57(3), 215-243.

Cauley, K., & Jovanovich, D. (2006). Developing an effective transition program for students entering middle school or high school. Clearing House, 80(1), 15-25.

Eccles, J. S. & Wigfield, A. (1997). Young adolescent development. In J. L. Irvin (Ed.), What current research says to the middle level practitioner (pp. 15-29). Westerville, OH: National Middle School Association.

Somers, C. (2015). Tips for parents on a successful transition to middle school. Retrieved from GoodTherapy | Tips for Parents on a Successful Transition…