A Longitudinal Mental Health and Wellbeing Survey of Students Transitioning to a Boys’ Only Boarding School

  • Leanne Lester The University of Western Australia
  • David Mander The University of Western Australia; Edith Cowan University


This longitudinal study aimed to survey over a 12-month period, the mental health and wellbeing of new incoming students transitioning to a boys’ only boarding school. An online self-report questionnaire was used to investigate the perceptions and pre-transition experience of new incoming Year 7 students (e.g., while still in Year 6) prior to their impending transition to Secondary School (Time 1), at the end of Term 1 first year of secondary school (Time 2), and at the end of Term 3 (Time 3) first year of secondary school. All day students enrolled to begin secondary school were also invited to participate. Findings suggest that transition support efforts by the school (e.g. The Connect Programme) were successful in minimising the differences in factors associated with academic, emotional and mental wellbeing between boarding and non-boarding students at three months and six months post-transition. Mental health and wellbeing in terms of the internal, home, school and community protective resilience factors, stayed at similar levels for both boarding and non-boarding students over the first year in secondary school. Academic motivation and self-regulation were found to be higher than normative values but significantly decreased for all students after starting secondary school. Conversely, internalising (e.g. emotional problems) and externalising problems (e.g. conduct problems) increased over time for boarding students. These findings are discussed in terms of transition and the boarding school context. Strengths and limitations of this study are presented.