The transition from primary to high school involves changes that can be both exciting and worrying to students and their families. A successful transition is vital to the development of students’ self-esteem and academic self-competence, and while the promise of a whole new group of friends, different teachers, new subjects and treats in the canteen, and an adolescent environment buzzing with adventures is exciting for many students, even the most curious and brave young person possesses some vulnerabilities at this age and stage in their development. Moreover, parents also have to adjust to changes when establishing their child in a new school setting, at a time when their children are beginning to express their individuality and autonomy. Many parents note the different cultures of primary and secondary schools, the daunting scale of secondary schools and the consequences of a loss of familiarity with the school, its organisation, teaching staff and even the friends that their children had. At Trinity, we also encourage family involvement by establishing strong home and school links.
Year 6 is the first year of middle schooling on the Ashmore Road campus, home to our Middle and Senior Years. Our dedicated Middle Years program provides a supportive link between the junior and senior school years and our purpose-built Middle Years Learning Precinct is a dedicated space where students in Years 6 to 9 can explore new interests in an environment which has the safe and positive development of young men and women at its heart as we focus on supporting physical and social development in the particularly formative years of early adolescence.
Our Year 6 Transition Program gently introduces students to the demands and responsibilities of high school, helping to prepare them emotionally and academically. This transition program includes special learning strategies and collaboration between Junior and Middle Years teachers. Students actually begin their transition the year before they start Year 6 via an experience and orientation day on our Ashmore Road campus. They meet first up in the morning in our Trinity Centre where they are split into smaller groups to facilitate getting to know one another and forging new friendships. They are then taken on a short tour of the grounds during which they meet the Principal, Head of Campus and teachers, and have all their questions answered. They are then led through sample Year 6 classes in elective subjects such as Design and Technology, Culinary and Hospitality, Performing Arts and Visual Arts. Parents are invited to join their children towards the end of the day to meet staff and ask questions. This transition day ensures all our new Year 6 students start the year happy, secure and confident with a strong sense of belonging.
Our Year 6 students are supported by having a dedicated team of experienced Middle Years specialist teachers led by a dedicated Dean of Middle Years and a Head of Year 6. We have purpose built classrooms for Year 6 to facilitate our approach to developing independence, and preparing them for secondary school where they will have greater autonomy and will need to be self-motivated and responsible for their own learning. Our flexible learning spaces and break-out spaces allow teachers to give students varying levels of independence based on their individual needs and stage of development. Students generally rise to the challenge because they are proud to be given some responsibility and independence.
Organisational skills – the process of planning your day and making sure you are prepared with all the necessary resources you need – are skills that need to be developed. Our Year 6 students have fewer teachers and room changes, and take their core subjects with their homeroom teacher but they also have specialist teachers for subjects such as Design and Technology, Performing Arts, Visual Arts, Sport and Culinary and Hospitality. This provides a gentle introduction to timetabling, and preparation and organisation, cultivating independence in a supportive environment. We help our students to manage their timetable and homework requirements, organise their week and remember important events through our portal.
Our Positive Education Wellbeing Program is an evidence-based wellbeing program which involves teaching both traditional skills and skills for happiness. It teaches students about emotions and how to build healthy relationships. We believe the skills for happiness, resilience and positive emotion can be learned and should be taught in school. We teach our students to build positive approaches to life, creating a protective net around a variety of issues such as anxiety and depression. Positive education has been shown to increase enjoyment of and engagement in school, increase curiosity and a love of learning and enhance social skills like empathy, co-operation, assertiveness and self-control. All these outcomes increase academic achievement and build emotional resilience.
A well-planned and coordinated approach to transitioning students from primary to secondary school really can make a significant difference to a student’s achievement, engagement and wellbeing outcomes. By slowly introducing our Year 6 students to the requirements of secondary schooling, and by developing and fostering the skills they will need to thrive in high school, we give them a flying start in to their secondary years.