CATS is interested in what gives students a healthy start to adolescence. We contact students and their parents every year to ask about their health, their wellbeing and what they like doing, as well as how they are going at school. Following students from Year 3 into high school means that CATS will lay a foundation for educational and health policy and practice across these important middle years.
The focus of the study is on health and emotional development through the middle years (8-14 years). We are also interested in the experiences of students and their families as they transition from primary to secondary school. We are looking at how these experiences may impact on the health, school engagement and academic outcomes of students.
The transition through the middle years brings with it many changes in social and emotional development, and engagement with family and school. These changes are associated with a rise in emotional and behavioural problems.
We are interested in what gives students a healthy start to adolescence. This is a phase of life that has been traditionally neglected in research and policy. CATS has the potential to identify students who are most at risk as they pass through puberty and the middle years. We also hope to identify factors that can be targeted to improve students' health and academic outcomes. These middle years are a time in which students, particularly those with vulnerabilities, need strong social and educational support systems.
No previous study, anywhere in the world, has tracked a large cohort of students from primary school right through puberty. This is important as we now understand that early puberty is linked to adolescent and adult wellbeing.
In CATS, we contact students and their parents every year to ask about their health, their emotional wellbeing, what they like doing and how they are going at school. Following students through high school will ensure CATS can lay a foundation for educational and health policy and practice across these middle years.
CATS is a unique study that will help to determine how to best help children manage the transition through puberty and the middle years of school, setting them on a healthy course into adulthood.
The information collected from the first six years of CATS (Years 3-8) has told us a lot about how students are coping with the transition from primary to high school. We now have a better understanding of children's health, emotional wellbeing, school engagement and academic achievement through this transition.
In 2018, we are catching up with all of our participants again, now in their third year of high school.