Moving Year 7s to High School Tips for Parents and Their Children
Posted on 30 June 2016
With the exception of South Australia, every Australian state has now moved year 7s into high school. If you drove past a school, be it state or private, anytime last year, you would have seen fenced off areas, trucks, and men in fluorescent vests. Schools were building facilities and classrooms to accommodate the expected year 7s.
Queensland was the most recent state to make the transition. Where the government invested approximately $328 million, upgrading facilities in the public school system, and a further $110 million was doled out to Catholic and independent school systems. The costs, which were displayed in last year’s budget, showed an impressive education expenditure. And so it should, what better way to spend money then on the education of our children and young adults? This $438 million went to around 363 infrastructure projects across 288 state schools in Queensland.
In 2002, the starting age for school was raised by six months. It means half of the children leaving primary school have already turned 13, and are more physically and socially mature.
Moving to high school is daunting for your child. They are leaving their friends, wearing a new uniform, and going to a much bigger school with much bigger people.
Most schools put on an orientation day. Going to it is an opportunity to show your child around the school and for them to meet a few people in their grade. It is also a good idea not to drive if you aren’t going to drive your child to school. Catch the bus which they will be catching and give them a real sense of what their first day will be like.
They are about to be a small fish in a big pond again. As parents are well aware, development around this age can vary. One 13-year-old might be mature and ready for the added stress of high school life, while another child, the same age, is not. If this is a concern you, as a parent, need to reach out to the school. The majority of teachers are happy to help, and they understand that the transition will be challenging for some students. In the new high school setting your child will have access to more experienced, specialised educators, and you should take advantage of this.
There are a number of reasons that the country and more recently Queensland made the move. The secondary setting offers better, specialised teachers. Dr Elizabeth Constable said, "Students of this age all over the nation have demonstrated that they are more than capable of succeeding in secondary settings, as have students in most Western Australian Catholic and independent schools and a few public schools.”
Dr Constable said ‘when the new national curriculum came in, greater demands would be placed on Year 7 students, particularly in maths and science.’
The Australian Curriculum is a national curriculum for schools in all states and territories of Australia, from Kindergarten to Year 12. It is currently being developed by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. It is constantly being updated and it outlines the minimum learning requirements for students. States are able to make changes to it as they see fit, and schools can decide how they want to teach it. Information for parents and frequently asked questions are available here. http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/
When SA Secondary Principals Association president Peter Mader travelled to Queensland to investigate the effect moving year 7 students into high school had, he found that, “Queensland educators were reporting a “tsunami shift” in middle schooling that included stronger pastoral care and a more “integrated” approach to curriculum where students investigated topics from the perspective of different subject areas.”
“In crude terms they moved Year 7s into high school. In real terms they have got a significant investment improving Year 7, 8 and 9 personal developments and learning achievement,” Mr Mader said.
The evidence suggests that there has been a noticeable improvement in the academic results and social development of year 7 students moved into high school, and the millions of dollars the states invested to smooth the transition can only be a good thing for our school system.
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