Managing the move.
In Western Australia, the compulsory years of education have typically been divided into seven years of primary school followed by five years of secondary school. This changed in the Catholic Education system in 2009 when it was decided that year seven students should be migrated to secondary schools. A good deal of thought and planning was invested in this enterprise in the year prior to the move being executed. This report examines how the move of year seven students to the secondary environment was managed by six Catholic schools, and investigates responses from students and parents during the transition year. It is hoped that the insights gleaned will be of assistance to other schools or sectors considering similar transition arrangements.
The schools in the study adopted a variety of different approaches to the transition process and utilised different forms of organization, ranging from a traditional secondary school model to one typifying a strong middle schooling philosophy. In some schools, purpose built year seven learning communities had been constructed or modifications made to existing classrooms to provide a “base” for the students. In other schools the students simply moved from class to class as in a traditional secondary school. In some schools primary trained teachers were employed to teach in the “core” subjects and the year seven students had secondary teachers in the specialist areas. In other schools there was either a mix of primary and secondary trained teachers or the year seven program was taught exclusively by secondary trained teachers.
The research provided the opportunity for the stakeholders to tell their transition story. A mixed methods approach was adopted in which both qualitative and quantitative tools were utilized. A survey was developed for use with each of the stakeholder groups and this was then followed by semi-structured interviews with focus groups in each of the schools.