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Supporting the socio-emotional aspects of the primary-secondary transition for pupils with social, emotional and behavioural needs : affordances and constraints

Mowat, Joan (2018) Supporting the socio-emotional aspects of the primary-secondary transition for pupils with social, emotional and behavioural needs : affordances and constraints. Improving Schools. ISSN 1365-4802 (In Press)

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Abstract

The primary-secondary transition presents both opportunities and challenges for children. For some, it may represent a ‘critical period’ which impacts on their future mental health and wellbeing. This paper focuses on identifying the affordances and constraints of a group-work approach to support children with social, emotional and behavioural needs across the transition with a specific focus on the socio-emotional aspects of transition. This evaluative, mixed-methods case study took place in six clusters of primary/secondary schools in Scotland involving 63 pupils who participated within support groups for around 20 1hr sessions. It focuses on the accounts of Support Group Leaders, drawing from focus group discussions held within each cluster and a Likert scale questionnaire. A wide range of facilitators and barriers to implementation and to pupil progress were identified. Facilitators related principally to the quality of relationships and pedagogy which the support group afforded and the quality of support for the project. Barriers related principally to organisational and resource constraints and more general concerns around how behaviour support is perceived. The paper argues that supporting the transition for pupils with SEBN is complex and there is no ‘magic bullet.’ Building a supportive infrastructure from the outset is key to success.