Smooth transition needed for year 7 students

From 2022, most South Australian regional students are set to complete their year seven education in public high schools.

There are concerns about how it will be managed and if there will be sufficient resources available to make the change as smooth as possible for school staff, parents and, most of all, students.

State Education Minister John Gardner said the Government had committed $185 million for capital works to upgrade schools.

"We have also delivered $2.85m for schools to prepare learning environments and facilities for incoming year seven students, and $10.3m to create 180 new places in special units and special classes across government high schools," he said.

Mr Gardner said extra staffing would come through a voluntary process, with primary teachers who want to teach in high school given support to make the transition.

We are designing a workforce strategy for teachers and support staff who want to switch from primary to secondary school when year 7 moves in 2022," he said.

"All teachers moving from primary to high school will benefit from the $13m investment in professional learning that the state government recently announced.

"It brings new opportunities for our students, our workforce and for our system. South Australia will be ready for the move in 2022."

The effectiveness of the change for staff and students and how the final result will affect smaller regional schools is of concern, according to Australian Education Union (SA) branch president Howard Spreadbury.

"If sufficient additional resourcing and support is not provided during and after the transition then primary schools will have less funding for libraries, counsellors and specialist teachers while high school leaders may have excessive workloads and high school class sizes may increase,Mr Spreadbury said.

"Additional resourcing should be provided to ensure smaller primary schools remain viable and primary school staffing, services and infrastructure are not adversely affected by the transition.

"Some country schools have raised concerns that they will not be able to attract additional specialist staff to fill vacancies due to insufficient attraction and retention allowances.

"This Government must provide additional resourcing to ensure that small schools do not close."

When asked about year seven children becoming exposed to peer influences at high school Mr Spreadbury said schools would need increased wellbeing support for all students.

"We are advocating for increased support of innovative and supportive middle years programs to support students in the transition," he said.

"Many area schools have been doing this for years and their expertise should be recognised and fully funded."

Consultation

The State Government is currently asking rural communities to take part in consultation about the issue of some year seven students having to commute more than 20 kilometres to attend a high school.

Affected families could possibly have the chance to keep their year seven child in primary school if there are concerns about travel, but this option will only be available for three years, 2022-2024. There are 46 primary schools which are located more than 20km from a high school, ranging from 20.1km to 74.4km.

A number or community forums will be held across the State, from Monday, July 22 to Monday, September 2.

Community members can also join an online discussion or make a written or online submission.

Closing date for the consultation is Tuesday, September 3.

Feedback will be collacted and provided in a report to the State Government by the end of the year.

To discover the nearest forum visit or for further information visit https://yoursay.sa.gov.au/events/community-forums

This story Smooth transition needed for year 7 students first appeared on The Murray Valley Standard.