We asked young people about their start to high school. See our short video series here:
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A unique longitudinal study following 1,200 Melbourne students from childhood through adolescence.

CATS is interested in what gives young people a healthy start to adolescence. We contact our participants and their parents every year. We ask about their health, their wellbeing, what they like doing, and how they are going at school or work.

The goal of CATS is to follow this important group of young people from year 3 into high school and beyond. This will allow CATS to lay a foundation for educational and health policy and practice across these important middle years and into adolescence.

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What is CATS investigating?

The focus of the study is on health and emotional development through the middle years (8-14 years) and beyond. We are also interested in the experience of young people and their families as they move from primary to secondary school. We are looking at how these experiences may impact their health, school engagement and academic outcomes. The transition through the middle years brings changes in social and emotional development. It also brings changes in engagement with family and school. These changes are associated with a rise in emotional and behavioural problems.

Why is CATS important?

Adolescence is a phase of life that has been traditionally neglected in research and policy. CATS has the potential to identify young people who are most at risk as they pass through puberty, the middle years and into older adolescence. We also hope to identify factors that may improve health and academic outcomes during this time. The middle years are a time in which young people need strong social and educational support systems. These systems are particularly important for young people with vulnerabilities.

CATS is a unique study. No previous study in the world has tracked such a large cohort of young people from primary school right through puberty. This is important because we now understand that early puberty is linked to adolescent wellbeing.

CATS will help determine how to best help young people manage the transition through puberty and the middle years of school. This will set them on a healthy course into adulthood.

What's next for CATS?

The information we collected in the first nine years of CATS (Years 3 - 11) has told us a lot about how students cope with moving from primary to high school and through their high school years. We now have a much better understanding of how life and school outcomes change during this time. These outcomes include their health, emotional wellbeing, school engagement and academic achievement. Check out our News page to find out what we're learnt so far.

In 2021, we are catching up with all our participants again, who are now 17 -18 years old, as they head into the final years of high school or take other exciting career paths!