Year 7 reprieve

23 Nov, 2014 02:00 AM
We're in a different situation than in the Eastern States.

FAMILIES in country areas will be able to apply to keep their Year 7 aged children at primary school until the end of 2017, but there is no chance of an exception beyond then.

This allowance applies to 42 students from rural WA in 2015, while the remaining 18,000 Year 7 students are due to join the ranks of high school students throughout the State as a part of a restructure to the public school system.

For many rural WA families without a local high school option, this change means a higher cost associated with sending children to boarding school and the stress of sending 11-year-old children way from the family home.

The option to continue at primary school for 2015 applies to five students in the Goldfields, 10 students in the Kimberley, eight students in the Midwest, four students in the Pilbara and 15 students in the Wheatbelt.

Andrew Dunne is a parent to one of the two Beacon Primary School students who will complete Year 7 locally next year, but is dreading his youngest child who is in Year 2 having to leave home for high school in five year's time.

"What I'm hoping is that we can prove to them that the Year 7s should stay here," he said.

"We're in a different situation than in the Eastern States where Year 7s have always been a part of high school, with many rural families not having access to a local high school.

"What we're trying to prove is that the teachers in primary school are good enough to teach to Year 7, but what they're (the education department) saying is that with the new curriculum Year 7 can't be taught in primary school."

Mr Dunne is part of a strong local contingent of parents who have been fighting against the WA government's decision to include Year 7 in high school, citing the additional financial stress of adding another year to boarding school fees and emotional concerns for young children leaving home earlier.

Great Southern Grammar principal Stuart Marquardt said his school in Albany had made efforts to include extra tutoring, a head of Year 7 position to deal directly with the challenges associated with starting boarding school, and extra boarding services to help students adjust to independence in their new surroundings.

He said the most important preparation for the transition was made at home and schools could help parents prepare themselves and their child for the change.



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