Community engagement on future intermediate and secondary education provision for Gore

The Boards of Trustees of Longford Intermediate School and Gore High School have initiated a process to review the potential options for future intermediate and secondary education provision in Gore. Both Boards are keen to understand community views and preferences, and have worked with the Ministry of Education to engage an independent facilitator to lead this conversation with the community.

In the first phase of the engagement, face-to-face meetings and workshops were held that involved students, staff, whānau, and a range of other groups and agencies. Participants discussed their thoughts and ideas about a range of different schooling structures, and gave feedback on their aspirations for teaching and learning.

The themes that emerged have been compiled into an online survey which will make it possible to identify which options and ideas have a wider base of support and why. The survey is available here and will be open until 21 September.  It is important you read the information below before completing the survey.

The following information is provided to give you an understanding of options for future Year 7 – 13 education provision in the Gore area. The survey is an opportunity to gain insight on the things that the community want and need for the future and what changes may be feasible for the community.

Currently, three options are being posed to the community and each of these comes with various advantages and disadvantages which will be more or less important to different people. Each of the options are discussed with some of the details that may influence your opinions.

Option 1: Year 7 – 8 intermediate school and year 9 – 13 high school (the status quo)

This option is reflective of the status quo with Longford Intermediate School and Gore High School having their current year 7 – 8 and year 9 – 13 structures.

 

Some of the following considerations may influence your opinions:

  • This option has the same number of transitions as current (primary, then intermediate, then secondary).

  • Students spend 2 years in intermediate before needing to transition again into high school.

  • There will be less mixing of older and younger students than in an environment where there is a wider age range of students.

  • The intermediate school roll has potential to limit flexibility in staffing and programmes.

Option 2: Year 7 – 13 secondary school

In this option, Longford Intermediate School and Gore High School would become a single school. This means that one school could adjust their structures to accommodate years 7 – 13, or an entirely new school entity could be created which combines the two schools. If a new school were to be created, it would be located on one of the existing sites.

Year 7 – 13 schools tend to be internally operated in smaller groupings. For example, there can be a junior and senior grouping such as years 7 – 10 and 11 – 13. These groups may have their own deans, their own physical learning spaces/social spaces, but are part of a single larger school. Some community members have expressed an interest in other groupings of year levels, and you will be asked about these in the survey.

 

Some of the following considerations may influence your opinions:

  • There will be fewer transitions for students (moving straight from primary to secondary).

  • There may be increased mixing of older and younger students and possibilities for older students to be role models to younger students.

  • Families with multiple children of different ages may have fewer drop offs and pickups.

  • There could be new purpose-built facilities.

  • A larger roll allows the board to have more flexibility with staffing and programmes, including more specialist staffing.

  • Full primaries (years 1 – 8) would need to be consulted with due to the possibility of students entering a school in Year 9 with students who are already established.

Option 3: Year 7 – 10 middle school and year 11 – 13 senior school

This option changes the structures of the schools which could remain on the same sites (Longford Intermediate site as a middle school and Gore High School site as a senior school) or co-locate to a shared site but remain separate schools. Being separate schools on different sites there would be the same number of transitions as there are currently, however, there would be more time at a middle school compared to an intermediate school. If they were to co-locate to a shared site, they would transition between schools but there would not be a geographic transition as students would be familiar with the area and facilities.

Both schools would still have separate Boards of Trustees. If schools were to be co-located, there could be greater opportunities for collaboration, sharing resources, and sharing specialist staff etc. This would be structurally similar to option 2, however may result in doubling of resources whereas option 2 would have greater resource sharing capabilities.

 

Some of the following considerations may influence your opinions:

  • This option has the same number of transitions as current (primary, then middle school, then senior school), however students would spend more time at middle school than at an intermediate school.

  • Schools would either remain on separate sites or co-locate to a single shared site.

  • Schools may be rebranded or have a completely new identity.

  • Students completing NCEA would be together.

  • Year 7 – 8 students may have access to school with more flexibility with staffing and programmes in a middle school compared to an intermediate school.

  • Conversely, Year 11 – 13 may limit flexibility with staffing and range of programmes due to having less students.

  • Full primaries (years 1 – 8) would need to be consulted with due to the possibility of students entering a school for Years 9 and 10 with students who are already established.

 

 

 

Common concerns and considerations

The points below were raised in the face-to-face meetings and thus require some clarification where able. Points that were raised by students, staff or whānau as benefits or concerns about the different options are also discussed.

What is best for education?

 

The options above pose questions about what structure is best for students in terms of their learning and education. The evidence from literature and examples of these structures in New Zealand and other areas of the world shows us that high-quality teaching and learning can happen at any type of school and there is no type of school that is consistently better for student engagement and achievement. For this reason, it is more important that structures reflect community needs and wants.

Transitions

 

Transitions are often of high importance to families. The literature tells us that transitions between schools are a time when students are at risk of disengaging from education. Transitions can, however, be effectively managed to minimise this risk. Transitions may come with social, emotional and physiological changes that can negatively impact learning as well as provide significant challenges for students and families. Students may need to adjust to new teachers and peers, new ways of learning, new rules and routines, as well as a new physical environment. Because of these reasons, some prefer a network with minimal transitions.

Option 2 removes a transition by having students in a single school without needing to transition to a new school, new students, new teachers, and new school culture etc. Option 3 has the same number of transitions, but students will spend 4 years in a middle school before transitioning to senior school compared to spending 2 years in an intermediate school. Some people have, however, expressed concern at transitioning into a new school for NCEA.

 

With regards to transitions in option 2 or 3, some people have expressed a concern that students transitioning from a full primary (year 1-8) will transition to a school at year 9 while other students are already established having been there two years. The middle or secondary schools, under these options, would have two intakes, one at year 7 and one at year 9.

Middle and senior school structures

 

This model is new to many but there are examples of this in New Zealand: Ormiston Junior College and Ormiston Senior College (Auckland), Rototuna Junior High School and Rototuna Senior High School (Hamilton), Albany Junior High School, and Albany Senior High School (Auckland), among others. It is common for middle and senior schools to be on neighbouring sites.

 

Option 3 is for a year 7 – 10 and 11 – 13 separation as this is what the Education Act defines as a middle and senior school. Other year group structures could not be considered with option 3 (but could be considered in option 2 as an internal configuration of a single school). Some people appreciate that years 11 – 13 may be better able to focus on NCEA without the distraction of younger students, while others are concerned that a transition right before NCEA may be poorly timed.

 

Some people appreciate that teaching and learning may be better differentiated for junior and senior students, however, others are concerned that having two smaller schools may limit the opportunities for both groups.

 

Some people also wonder if middle schools are structured, run, and timetabled more like a primary or secondary school. This is up to the Board of Trustees of the school. A trend is that middle schools operate as an extension upwards of primary schools. They often have a single homeroom teacher, core subjects, and the addition of some specialist subjects and subject teachers. This is, however, up to the board of the middle school.

  

Bilingual pathways

 

Bilingual pathways was raised in meetings as something to be considered as part of this engagement process thus feedback received on bilingual pathways will be discussed in terms of the three options. Those who need/want bilingual pathways might consider what options they believe allow for greater continuity between schools.

High needs learning

 

Students with high learning needs are currently catered for in a hub in Gore High School. If you have feedback for how the future Gore community can cater to students with high learning needs then you should provide this in the survey.

Year 1 – 8 primary and 9 – 13 secondary

 

This option is favoured by some and involves phasing out intermediate schooling in favour of having students move straight from primary to secondary school. This is not feasible however as this would involve raising the caps of primary schools to ensure that they can accommodate years 1-8 as well as accommodate the students that would go to intermediate school. The change would not be viable for all primary schools in the network.

  • LinkedIn - White Circle

© 2017 D & G CONSULTING