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A unique longitudinal study following 1,200 Melbourne students from childhood through adolescence.

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

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

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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). We are also interested in the experience of students and their families as they move from primary to secondary school. We are looking at how these experiences may impact students' 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?

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 may improve students' health and academic outcomes. These middle years are a time in which students need strong social and educational support systems. Support systems are particularly important for students with vulnerabilities.

CATS is a unique study. No previous study in the world has tracked such a large cohort of students 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 children 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 seven years of CATS (Years 3-9) has told us a lot about how students cope with moving from primary to high school. We now have a much better understanding of how life and school outcomes change during this time. These outcomes include children's health, emotional wellbeing, school engagement and academic achievement. In 2019, we are catching up with all our participants again, who are now in Year 10.