[Oz-teachers] Models for school structures
barbara at austarmetro.com.au
Sun Nov 30 08:21:50 EST 2003
This thread is developing a life of its own so hence the new subject heading
Firstly, the NZ scheme that existed when I taught there was continuous
enrolment, where a child could enter school on their 5th birthday regardless
of the date. In some places this was modified to be the first school day of
the month so that a group could start at the same time rather than being a
smattering of individuals.
These New Entrants spent about a term in the NE class learning the social
and procedural aspects of school (there was no universal pre-school system)
and then they "moved on" to Primer 1 where things were a little more formal
but often in the same class with the same teacher. There was a continual
upward movement between Primer 1-4 over the first three years of school but
progression to Standard 1 was still at the beginning of the following year.
If a student was not ready for Std 1 (because of age, needs, whatever) then
he/she formed the nucleus of the new year's Primer 4 class which grew as the
This system was adopted in the ACT for a short time in the mid-80s
(previously there had been two intakes in February and July) but there was
not the fluidity of the NZ system. Kids came into kindergarten and there
they stayed until they went to Yr 1. And as a Kinder teacher of the time, it
was a nightmare because those who started later just had to make do as best
they could to catch up. There was neither the time or the opportunity or
the staffing to have that special NE group that the NZ scheme has. Because
of the gap between those who started at the beginning of the year, and those
who started at mid-year, and the lock-step way of progressing children at
the end of each year, a new 'year-level' was set up for those Kinders who
were not ready for Yr 1 and it was called Transition or Super K. But that
in itself led to difficulties because the next year's Yr 1 class could have
an age range of 12 months and the social skills range at the age is very
Because most ACT students have access to formal pre-school for the two years
prior to starting big school, we now have a one-intake system that accepts
students who turn 5 before April.
There is no easy solution - certainly age differentiation is not the ideal
but what is more workable? I agree multi-age K/1 classes are great and that
students should and do get their individual needs met, but the most vocal
opponents of multi-age at any level are the parents. Many want "straight"
classes and demand that their children be in these particularly in the
junior school. We have less opposition to multi-age at the Yr 5/6 level.
In the absence of a structure that works better than ageism, we need to rely
on the professionalism of the teachers to offer a culture of learning that
recognises and provides for the increasing demands for flexibility in
meeting students' needs and aspirations. Which brings us back to the
school's vision, how it relates to the Adelaide Declaration and what it
means for us as individual practising teachers as we design and deliver
We need to continually ask
What are our students' needs, and how can these best be met?
How does my teaching style allow for this?
What do I need to keep/ change/ develop in order to address these issues?
Palmerston District Primary School
PALMERSTON ACT 2913
T. 61 2 6205 6162
F. 61 2 6205 7242
E. barbara at austarmetro.com.au
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