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Effective transition to school: Integrating philosophy, pedagogy and curriculum

Full reference
Postlewaight, G. (2018). Effective transition to school: Integrating philosophy, pedagogy and curriculum. NZ International Research in Early Childhood Education Journal, 21(1), 62 - 75.  Retrieved from

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Original Research Paper
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Effective transition to school: Integrating philosophy, pedagogy and curriculum

Gillian Postlewaight
Eastern Institute of Technology, NZ 


Successful transition from early childhood settings to primary school involves a triadic process between children and their families and whānau, the early childhood setting and the school. This case study examines the self-review and subsequent commitment to philosophical and pedagogical changes within one primary school’s transition classrooms, undertaken to ensure the most effective outcomes for children at the school during their time of change and uncertainty. It offers an overview of the metamorphosis from reflecting on transition to a wider vision for growth and development. A focus on learning through play and discovery as a key value led the school to envisage a framework of possibilities for future school-wide reflection and self-review. Research of family and whānau experiences of transition to the school and/ or teacher reflections on their learning and transformation would offer relevant feedback to the self-review.

Key words: Transition, relationships, learning through play, continuity, communities of learning.



Nelson Park School is a primary school catering for years 1 - 6 (5 to 11 years old) children. The school is situated in Napier, Hawke’s Bay, Aotearoa New Zealand. The Nelson Park School Curriculum [NPSC] (2011) identifies ongoing reflection on pedagogical practice and the implementation of child-centred learning as being key aspects that enhance effective transitions for children. The school promotes continuous learning beginning with a strong focus on successful transition to school from early childhood education settings. The values and beliefs that underpin the culture of learning and teaching at the school encompass a holistic, inclusive approach that enables children to contribute as members of the learning community (NPSC, 2011).

The author is a lecturer on an Early Childhood Initial Teacher Education Degree programme at the Eastern Institute of Technology (EIT) Hawke’s Bay New Zealand. The teachers of year one (5 year old) children at Nelson Park School contribute to the Bachelor of Teaching Early Childhood programme by sharing with student teachers the school’s approaches to transition from early childhood education to primary school. The opportunity to document and share the story behind the current practice arose from this relationship. Research approval for a case study was given by the EIT Research Ethics and Approvals Committee. Consent has been given by the Nelson Park School Board of Trustees and participating teachers for the use of relevant documentation and for the school to be identified. Deputy Principal of Nelson Park School Jill Skjottrup has given her consent to be identified and has read and agreed with the content of this article. Data collection consisted of a series of semi- structured interviews with Jill Skjottrup, informal observations in the classrooms and the examination and analysis of Nelson Park School documentation including: the Nelson Park School Curriculum (2011), planning and evaluation, and self-review.


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