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PPTA favours earlier transitions

PPTA favours earlier transitions

PPTA believes a secondary system commencing at year 7 (form 1) will improve student achievement more than one with middle schools from years 7-10.

PPTA president Phil Smith said the union believed students should have only one transition point in their schooling, and that this should be earlier rather than later.

“The international TIMS reports on maths and science strongly show that junior students benefit from having teachers who also teach subjects at senior levels. This is not available in middle schools, which are normally staffed by primary teachers .”

The Education Ministry’s work on quality teaching, released earlier this week, also showed that teachers needed specialist subject content and pedagogical knowledge for their students to succeed, Mr Smith said.

“We believe a transition at year 7 will expose students to specialist teachers earlier but still within a nurturing environment, and prepare them better for senior school curriculum and assessment.

“The best model for this is a form 1-7 (years 7-13) secondary school which can deal with the emotional and social needs of junior students and the need to prepare them for qualifications challenges.”

Mr Smith was responding to an ERO report which labels years 9-10 as the ‘forgotten years’ and which calls for ’ring-fencing’ of junior students within high schools.

He said PPTA was disappointed by sweeping generalisations in the report about secondary schools that were not based on any analysis of students’ educational outcomes.

“Where is the evidence that years 9 and 10 are the forgotten years?,” he said.

“ERO have based this report on their very generalised reports of individual schools over the past three years. These reports did not focus on students in years 9 and 10 and contained no evidence about student achievement.

“‘Ring-fencing’ junior students will only disadvantage students by not having teachers who also teach subjects at senior level.”

Mr Smith said PPTA did not favour years 7-10 middle schools because there was no evidence that they enhanced educational achievement, or that students who moved from the more generalised instruction of a middle school to the specialised secondary environment at year 11 coped any better than those who moved earlier.

“In fact, in our experience shifting the transition point to year 11 increases rather than reduces problems for students. They have to make a huge social transition just as they begin to face assessment for national qualifications.”

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