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An investigation into enabling assessment and pedagogic continuity across the primary and secondary transition border: Breaking down the barriers to transition readiness

  • School: School of Social Sciences
  • Study mode(s): Full-time / Part-time
  • Starting: 2022
  • Funding: UK student / EU student (non-UK) / International student (non-EU) / Self-funded


‘Readiness’ can be seen as a concept, used to describe the extent to which learners are prepared for exhibiting skills and attributes that demonstrate their ‘readiness’ to engage with learning. Within this research, ‘transition readiness’ (Jindal-Snape & Cantali, 2019) is set within the context of learners making a successful educational adaptation from their primary (KS2) into their secondary (KS3) school. We are interested in research that examines what enables (and impedes) this successful adaptation during this crucial transition point. Successful adaptation will have a positive impact on social and academic engagement and consequently, learner wellbeing across this transition point (Boone & Demanet, 2020).

Galton & McLellan (2018) identify five key characteristics of transition through their ‘Five Bridges of Transfer’ model (administration, social and emotional, curriculum, pedagogy and self-management). Their comparison of findings from their ORACLE (1975-1980) project with recent (2015) transition approaches highlight how current educational climatic influences such as performativity, academisation and diminished local authority control have led to a regression in transition practice. They note that, currently, teachers across the transition phase have limited contact for information exchange and that curriculum and pedagogic continuity remain weak.

Our research focuses on breaking down barriers to transition readiness that are influenced by limitations in assessment, pedagogic and curriculum continuity across the transition phase and exchanging assessment information between primary and secondary teachers (OFSTED, 2015). These barriers have been further influenced by the removal of assessment level descriptors in England in 2014.This has created an opportunity for schools to reconsider how they articulate and monitor progress in learning across the curriculum (Serret, Correia & Harrison, 2018). However, an absence of clear government policy on transition coupled with the necessary adaptations that were made regarding key summative assessments during the global pandemic has led to more localised and inconsistent approaches when sharing assessment information at this transition point.

This research draws from Serret’s research expertise of working collaboratively with teachers to strengthen assessment approaches at KS2 and KS3 (Harrison et al., 2018; Serret et al., 2017; Black et al., 2011 ) and her work on the impact that professional learning and collaborative teacher/researcher partnerships can have on teaching and learning (Serret et al., 2017).  We are interested in applying similar collaborative research approaches to investigate approaches that will break down barriers to transition readiness at the KS2/KS3 transition border.

The vision of the Institute of Education at NTU is to be a distinctive world-class provider of teacher education and the study of education, rooted in and serving communities and families and founded in partnerships which are research-based and student-centred.

This project aligns the NTU Research Centres: Nottingham Centre for Children, Young People and Families (NCCYPF) and with the School strategic research priority Health and Wellbeing.

Potential Supervisory Team:

Director of Studies: Dr. Natasha Serret

Co-supervisor: Dr. Andrew Clapham

Application Deadline

Thursday 23 June 2022 at 9 am

Interview details

Interviews will take place on the following dates:

Between 9 July – 15 August 2022.

Entry qualifications

Entrants should normally hold a first or upper second class honours degree of a UK university or an equivalent qualification, or a lower second class honours degree with a master’s degree at Merit level (or equivalent) of a UK university or an equivalent qualification.

An applicant not meeting the certificated requirement may be considered on merit and in relation to the nature and scope of the proposed programme of study. Applicants are considered against evidence of ability and background knowledge in relation to the proposed research. Professional experience, publications, written reports or other appropriate evidence of accomplishment are taken into consideration.

How to apply

For a step-by-step guide to make an application, please visit our how to apply page.

Fees and funding

This is a self-funded PhD project. Applicants are welcome to contact project leaders to discuss potential funding opportunities.

Guidance and support

Further guidance and support on how to apply can be found on our apply page.

Still need help?

Dr Natasha Serret