'It’s scary starting a new school': Children and young people’s perspectives on wellbeing support during educational transitions

Ola Demkowicz*, Charlotte Bagnall, Alexandra Hennessey , Kirsty Pert, LUCY BRAY, Emma Ashworth, Emma Ashworth, Carla Mason

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
26 Downloads (Pure)


Children and young people experience various transitions throughout their education. Theory and evidence highlight that these can be complex, and poor experiences of transitions can be associated with worsened outcomes, necessitating a need to develop and implement wellbeing support. However, children and young people's views are lacking in the literature, and studies tend to focus on specific transitions rather than on what matters for wellbeing during transitions generally.

We explore children and young people's own perceptions of what would support wellbeing during educational transitions.

We engaged with 49 children and young people aged 6–17 years, using purposeful maximum variation sampling to facilitate engagement of a diverse sample across a variety of education setting types.

We undertook focus groups, using creative methods centred around a storybook, asking participants to make decisions as headteachers about wellbeing provision in a fictional setting. Data were analysed using reflexive thematic analysis.

We constructed four themes: (1) helping children and young people understand what to expect; (2) developing and sustaining relationships and support; (3) being responsive to individual needs and vulnerabilities; and (4) managing loss and providing a sense of closure.

Our analysis highlights a desire among children and young people for a considered, supportive approach that recognizes their individual needs and their connection to educational communities. The study makes a methodological and conceptual contribution, demonstrating the value of adopting a multifocussed lens to researching and supporting transitions.
Original languageEnglish
Article number e12617
Pages (from-to)1-17
JournalBritish Journal of Educational Psychology
Early online date29 May 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 May 2023


  • children and young people
  • creative methods
  • education
  • schools
  • transitions
  • wellbeing


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