Expectations of the transition to secondary school in children with developmental language disorder and low language ability

Sheila M. Gough Kenyon, Rebecca M. Lucas, Olympia Palikara

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Background: A successful transition from primary to secondary school for typically developing (TD) children is associated with academic and psychosocial outcomes. Children with Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) tend to have pervasive needs in both of these domains, yet little is known about their experience of this transition. We have no information concerning the transition for children with low language (LL). Aims: 1) To explore the expectations of the transition to primary school for children with DLD, children with Low-Language (LL) proficiency and their TD peers; 2) to examine the predictors of transition concerns for each group. Sample: Children aged 10-11 in the final year of primary school with DLD (n = 30), LL (n = 29) or TD (n = 48) were recruited from eight UK primary schools in the summer term. Methods: A battery of standardized language and psychosocial assessments, including the School Concerns Questionnaire (SCQ; Rice, Frederickson & Seymour, 2011) were administered. Results: The TD group had significantly lower levels of school concern than the DLD and LL groups, but the DLD and LL groups did not significantly differ. Concerns of children with DLD and LL were predicted by scholastic competence whereas concerns of TD children were predicted by social competence, emotion recognition, and expressive suppression. Conclusions: Results indicate that provision made by primary and secondary schools to facilitate a successful transition may most usefully target different areas depending on pupils’ language level.

© 2019, The British Psychological Society. The attached document (embargoed until 27/06/2020) is an author produced version of a paper published in BRITISH JOURNAL OF EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. The final published version (version of record) is available online at the link. Some minor differences between this version and the final published version may remain. We suggest you refer to the final published version should you wish to cite from it.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jun 2019


  • Developmental Language Disorder
  • Transition
  • Low language
  • School concerns

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