29 Jan 2018
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First cohort of Year 7s move to secondary schools

Catholic Education has begun its move of Year 7 students to secondary schools. The first intake of seventy-seven Year 7s began at Gleeson College, Golden Grove, on Monday January 29.

The College is the first South Australian Catholic secondary school to change its student intake and paves the way for a bigger switch that will happen in 2019.

“We’re confident this change is in the best interests of our students,” says Dr Neil McGoran, Director, Catholic Education South Australia.

“The experience of students and parents in Catholic R – 12 schools who already offer Year 7 in a secondary context is overwhelmingly positive.”

Gleeson College is the first Catholic secondary school in South Australia to switch from being a Year 8 – 12 school to catering for Year 7 – 12.  From 2019, all Catholic secondary schools will include Year 7.

“We’re delighted to be welcoming Year 7 students to our school in our 30th year,” says Andrew Baker, Principal, Gleeson College.

“Our community has worked hard to prepare for this exciting change. Welcoming transition processes and events along with new, recently completed indoor and outdoor learning spaces ensure both students and Gleeson College are Year 7 Ready!”

The idea of moving Year 7 to a secondary context is not new. Every other state and territory in Australia operates this way. In fact, many South Australian Catholic R-12 schools have been offering Year 7 in a middle school or secondary environment for years. Fifty per cent of students in Catholic schools in this State already undertake Year 7 in a middle or secondary school.

The move also means change for Catholic Primary schools. From 2019, the majority of Catholic Primary schools in South Australia will educate students to Year 6.  There will be a number of exceptions including schools in regional South Australia who do not have a secondary Catholic school in close proximity and a small number of schools with temporary exclusions.

“We’ve made this change to enhance students’ learning and development, and to ensure the best possible transition into secondary school,” explains Dr Neil McGoran.

The reasons for moving Year 7 include:

  • Curriculum - The Australian Curriculum for Year 7 is designed to be taught in a secondary context.
  • Educational benefits - Teaching Year 7 in a secondary setting gives students access to specialist teachers and facilities that they don’t necessarily get access to in a primary context.
  • Learning outcomes - A secondary environment offers flexibility that can help students be challenged intellectually and can have a positive impact on learning outcomes.
  • Social and emotional benefits - By the time most children reach Year 7 they are ready for something different.  Adolescents thrive in an environment that encourages independence and supports their social and emotional needs.

“We’ve examined the experience of other States in Australia, as well as other educational systems around the world, and noted the importance of the transition into secondary school,” adds Dr McGoran.

“We are aware that if a student can feel a sense of belonging and connectedness at their secondary school, they are much more likely to succeed in schooling.”

“It is possible, of course, for students to perform very well in Year 7 in a primary setting. However, because of the way the Australian Curriculum is structured, students’ social and emotional readiness, and our own data on how students are already performing in secondary contexts, we believe that moving Year 7 to secondary, where possible, is in the best interests of our students.”

And the Cannard family agrees. Twins, Ava and Lachlan, will start at Gleeson this term.

“I am really excited about the Performing Arts Program at Gleeson, particularly dance and the school musical,” says Ava.   

“I am looking forward to exploring STEM subjects and using the science labs and 3D printers,” comments Lachlan.

Mother Emma explains, “For my husband James, and I, the opportunity to move our children into a high school setting in year 7 was an easy decision. Access to high school facilities gives them so many opportunities to experience new things and embrace new challenges. Our children had outgrown the primary setting and moving to Gleeson has opened up options for different extra-curricular opportunities which has reinvigorated their excitement about school.

Parents who wish to find out more about the Year 7 transition should contact their school Principal. Find out more about Ready for Year 7.