Last year, in preparation for the historic move of Year 7 to high school, Helensvale State High School on the Gold Coast initiated a joint working group with four of their local affiliate primary schools: Arundel State School, Gaven State School, Helensvale State School, and Oxenford State School.
As the incoming 2015 cohort of Year 7 students will graduate secondary school in 2020, the group named themselves the 2020 Vision Coalition.
Every month, principals and deputy principals from each of the five schools meet to discuss, develop, and review plans, to help ensure students from the primary schools have a smooth academic and social transition across to Helensvale State High School.
Thoughts from a coalition high school
Heidi Booth, the Deputy Principal at Helensvale State High School said the schools already had a strong foundation of engagement to build on.
“Over the years, our schools have developed solid working relationships with each other, but the move of Year 7 to high school will be a big change for all of us,” she said.
“Our combined commitment to work together to prepare and welcome students has helped us to achieve new levels of communication and sharing, which will benefit of all of our schools for next year and beyond.”
The schools have used the historic education reform as an opportunity to combine the best of primary school with the best of high school.
“Recently, nine of our teachers visited partner primary schools to observe the engagement and teaching styles used in primary classrooms,” Heidi said.
“They’ll then share this information with their high school colleagues, and adapt things they’ve seen, to suit the high school learning environment.
“We’ve held a number of parent information sessions at our local primary schools to explain how we’re working in coalition with the primary schools and how we’ve developed our Junior Secondary model,” Heidi added.
“Our leadership team has also visited primary schools during the morning drop-off time, so that we can continually build that relationship before their children transition across to high school. We’ve found that parents are grateful for this informal engagement.”
Thoughts from a coalition primary school
Margo Amundsen, the Deputy Principal at Oxenford State School, said the coalition has been really beneficial for students.
“Working closely with the high school has been brilliant. While our schools have worked together in the past, the proactive leadership shown by Helensvale State High School as we prepare to transition 100 of our Year 6 and 7 students across, has added depth to our collaborations,” Margo said.
“Some of our parents had said they were worried about the 2015 Year 8 students being forgotten amongst the excitement of the move of Year 7 students to high school. They were also concerned about how their child would be taken care of, amongst all of the older students.
“We’re pleased to say that all of our parents with transitioning students have had plenty of opportunities to meet with the high school teaching team at Helensvale through orientation events, school tours, and information events. Feedback now is that they feel more informed and confident that their child will be supported, academically as well as emotionally, when they start Helensvale State High School next year,” Margo added.