The purpose of this study was to explore the experiences of and the role played by the School Management Team (SMT) in supporting learners who are transitioning from primary to secondary schools. School transitioning forms a bridge between two schools regarding their academic collaborative efforts. Learners’ performance can be affected by the ‘blame game’ between the two schooling levels. SMTs from both levels have to support each other by improving learner performance. One of the major challenges experienced in schools stems from the grouping of phase for grades 7 to 9. This phase obligates learners to belong to two different schools. SMTs play a significant role in supporting and mentoring learners who are transitioning from primary to secondary schools. The Personnel Administrative Measures (PAM) policy document clarifies that SMTs are responsible for the effective functioning of their departments as well as the general administrative functions of the school. In line with the above-mentioned policy, the SMT participated in this study to extrapolate information on their experiences regarding the role they play during learner transition from primary to secondary schools.
School Principals, Deputy Principals and Heads of Departments took part in a qualitative study. Semi-structured interviews were used to delve into the SMTs experiences and the planning involved in learner transition. This study used a multiple case study design with the interpretivist paradigm enabling diverse interpretation of the transition from primary to secondary schools. The purposive selection of the participants and the participating schools were diligently approximated to enable possible feeder zones between the releasing and the receiving schools. Four schools comprising two primary schools and two secondary schools were selected to participate in the research.
Schlossberg’s transition theory guided the study. As noted within this framework, transition involves the following four important factors: support, situation, self and strategies. One of the major findings is that there are no actual programmes planned at schools for learner transition. Therefore, by implication there is no support given by the receiving schools.