About the CATS Study

What are we researching? 

CATS is a unique longitudinal study following a cohort of 1200 children in and around Melbourne. CATS began in 2012 when the children were in grade 3. CATS is predominately interested in how children manage the onset of puberty which brings with it a profound shift in social and emotional development, engagement with families and schools, and is associated with a rise in emotional and behavioural problems. 

Why is CATS so important? 

“We know a great deal about promoting the wellbeing of children through the first years of life but the ‘middle years’ remain predominately overlooked in social policy and research.”

CATS is interested in what gives children a healthy start to adolescence in today’s changing world. This project has the potential to identify which children are most at risk as they pass through puberty and the middle years of school and what factors can be targeted to help children manage this transition better. These middle years are a time in which a child, particularly those with vulnerabilities, needs strong social and educational support systems. Yet no previous study, anywhere in the world, has tracked a large cohort of children through puberty from its onset in primary school.

The first phase of the study (grades 3 to 7) has collected a comprehensive annual assessment of health, school engagement, emotional wellbeing and academic achievement. Future years of research in this area will position CATS to lay a foundation for educational and health policy and practice across the middle years.

This study will help determine how to best help children manage the transition through puberty and the middle years of school, setting them on a good course into adulthood. 

Where is CATS heading? 

The information from the first five years of CATS (grade 3-7) has already created a window into what is going on for children transitioning from primary to secondary school. We now have a better understanding of childrens health, emotional wellbeing, school engagement and academic achievenment, just to name a few key topics. This is an incredible contribution to existing knowledge in the field! 

We are again planning to catch up with all of our families in 2017. This will be the second year of high school (grade 8) for our participatng students. We are really excited to hear about how you are going your early high school years!