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'Best friends forever'? Friendship stability across school transition and associations with mental health and educational attainment

Ng-Knight, Terry, Shelton, Katherine H. ORCID:, Riglin, Lucy, Frederickson, Norah, McManus, I. C. and Rice, Frances ORCID: 2019. 'Best friends forever'? Friendship stability across school transition and associations with mental health and educational attainment. British Journal of Educational Psychology 89 (4) , pp. 585-599. 10.1111/bjep.12246

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Background Friendships have been linked to mental health and school attainment in children. The effects of friendlessness and friendship quality have been well researched, but less is known about the role of friendship stability (i.e., maintaining the same friend over time), an aspect of friendship which is often interrupted by the transition between phases of schooling. Many children report concerns about the secondary school transition which introduces a number of new social and academic challenges for children. Aims To explore rates of friendship stability and whether maintaining a stable best friend across the primary to secondary school transition provided benefits to children's adjustment during this period. Sample Data were from 593 children (M age = 11 years 2 months). Methods This study used longitudinal data from children transitioning into 10 UK secondary schools and explored the association between self‐reported friendship stability and three outcomes: academic attainment, emotional problems and conduct problems. Analyses controlled for friendship quality and pre‐transition psychological adjustment or attainment as appropriate. Results Rates of friendship stability were relatively low during this period. Children who kept the same best friend had higher academic attainment and lower levels of conduct problems. Exploratory analyses indicated that secondary school policies that group children based on friendships may support friendship stability. Conclusions Helping maintain children's best friendships during the transition to secondary school may contribute to higher academic performance and better mental health.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics (CNGG)
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 0007-0998
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 3 September 2018
Date of Acceptance: 31 August 2018
Last Modified: 07 Nov 2023 03:42

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