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Teachers divided on year 7 to high school

Written by Matthew Schultz

Special Education teacher Christine Robin believes that her students will be impacted negatively when Year 7 moves to high school in 2015.

The decision by the Queensland Government to move Year 7 into high school from 2015 has received a number of different responses from teachers.

The controversial issue has left teachers divided on the long term effects it will have on the education system.

Withcott State School Year 7 teacher Matthew Russell believes the move will be of great benefit to students.

“Many of my students are well and truly ready for high school by halfway through the year.

“It’s going to give them more opportunities for their curriculum, especially science.”

Mr Russell believes that the benefits for students far outweigh the difficulties that primary schools will face when adapting to the move.

“We will effectively be losing one and a half classes once the Year 6 and 7 students leave at the end of 2014.

“The school is thinking about different ways of handling the loss of students, although nothing can be decided until we are sure of the number of prep students coming in that year.

“For me personally, there are a number of different options I can take once the Year 7s leave. Depending on numbers I could teach a younger grade here, or possibly take up a new challenge of teaching high schools.

“It will be up to the individual teachers and schools to see how they handle that situation (no longer being able to teach Year 7 at primary school).”

Special education teacher Christine Robin is less concerned about how the schools will be affected, and is worried about the well-being of her students.

“I don’t believe it is a good idea to move Year 7 to high school. My students are simply not ready for high school at their age.

“The gap between students with special needs and their peers increases over the years, and increases further once students are in high school.”

Ms Robin was also concerned about the potential bullying that her students could face by interacting with the older students.

While students won’t be entering high school any younger thanks to the introduction of prep year, Queensland students could be as old as nineteen before they leave school.

“A lot of my students simply don’t have the emotionally maturity levels required to be mixing with students that much older than them.

“Each year in primary school is vital to build confidence, self esteem and resilience, and we do not need to cut this time any shorter.”

Current Year 8 Bremer teacher Ben Gillis is more inclined to sit on the fence with the issue, accepting that there are both good and bad sides to the move.

“It brings Queensland in line with other states which have Grade 7 as a part of high school. It will definitely make it easier for families moving inter-state.

“High schools in particular are going to face a lot of logistical problems with the move, things like timetabling and room allocation is going to be difficult to sort out.”

Mr Gillis believes that hard work from both the schools and their teachers are required to make the move a success.

“Simply putting students into high school is not going to equate to better outcomes for the students. A motivated student with an inspirational teacher will learn in any setting.

“It’s up to as a teachers to provide the best possible learning environment for our students.”

Gillis was also unsure of the effects of the maturity gap between Year 7 and 12 students, believing that this could both be a positive and negative influence.

“There is a lot of potential for bullying. On the other hand there is potential for senior students to be positive role models for the younger students.

“Again, it’s really up to the teachers and students to improve education.”

Image courtesy of Christine Robin.

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