Starting Strong V

Transitions from Early Childhood Education and Care to Primary Education

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The transition from early childhood education to primary school is a big step for all children, and a step which more and more children are having to take. Quality transitions should be well-prepared and child-centred, managed by trained staff collaborating with one another, and guided by an appropriate and aligned curriculum. Transitions like these enhance the likelihood that the positive impacts of early learning and care will last through primary school and beyond.  While transition policies have been on the agenda of many countries over the past decade, little research has been done into how OECD countries design, implement, manage and monitor transitions. Filling these gaps is important for designing early years’ policies that are coherent, equitable and sustainable.

This report takes stock of and compares the situation across 30 OECD and partner countries, drawing on in-depth country reports and a questionnaire on transition policies and practices. It focuses on the organisation and governance of transitions; and the policies and strategies to ensure professional, pedagogical and developmental continuity between early childhood education and care settings and schools. The report describes the main policy challenges highlighted by participating countries, along with a wealth of practical strategies for tackling them. The publication concludes with six “cross-cutting” pointers to guide future policy development.

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The OECD Secretariat collected information on country approaches to transitions through the preparation of Country Background Reports (CBRs). These were prepared by the nine countries that made voluntary contributions to cover the costs of this project: eight OECD countries (Austria, Denmark, Finland, Japan, Norway, Slovenia, Sweden and Wales, United Kingdom) and one partner country (Kazakhstan). The CBRs were prepared following guidelines provided by the OECD Secretariat. They responded to a common set of issues and questions, and followed a common framework to facilitate comparative analysis and to maximise the opportunities for countries to learn from each other. They have been written in an accessible style so as to reach a wider audience. They provide detailed information on the countries’ transition system and practices, including the policies and practices that are implemented in public ECEC settings and primary schools, and an in-depth analysis of context, key factors and policy responses. They are an invaluable source of information for the final synthesis report.

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