Following extensive consultation, the Marshall Liberal Government will provide special transitional arrangements for remote communities when Year 7 moves to high school in 2022.
Recognising the unique concerns faced by some regional areas, particularly in remote locations, parents at eligible primary schools will be able to apply to their local principal for an exemption to keep their Year 7 child in primary school during a three-year transition period – until 2024.
Eligible schools are country primary schools located more than 20 kilometres from their nearest area or high school.
By default, all Year 7s will go to a high school (or area school) from 2022, and based on interstate experience during similar transition phases it is not anticipated that many families will seek this exemption. However, for certain families and communities this flexibility will be most welcome.
In another new measure, eligible primary schools who drop a class due to the departure of the Year 7 cohort will be able to apply for grant funding to support them to maintain the number of classes at their school.
In response to other issues identified by communities in the consultation, the Year 7 to High School project will also:
- Provide additional funding direct to primary schools for the extra transport costs for transition activities in country school in 2021, when the double cohort (Years 6 and 7) get ready to start high school.
- Provide additional support to the regular process of updating bus routes in 2021, to ensure the changes required for the double cohort moving to high school are in place for 2022.
- Incorporate feedback received in areas such as professional learning for teachers, supporting transition for younger students and delivering capital works in regional settings, into planning and delivery.
Education Minister John Gardner said the arrangements would ensure a smooth transition for regional Year 7 students to transition into a high school setting.
“This decision follows extensive consultation by the Education Department from July to September this year,” said Education Minister John Gardner.
“Feedback has indicated that the vast majority of regional communities are looking forward to the opportunities that high school will offer their children.
“The move of Year 7 to high school in 2022 will bring new opportunities for country students, who will have earlier access to specialist teachers and specialist facilities.
“The move will align South Australia’s public schools with the Australian curriculum, which is designed for Year 7 to be taught in a high school setting, giving students access to specialist teachers and resources.”
Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone welcomed the arrangement put in place for regional communities.
“The Government has listened to the feedback received through the consultation, and we thank everyone who took the time to contribute,” said Minister Whetstone.
“The three year transition period provides time for regional communities to adjust to the move of Year 7 into high school and the flexibility to cater for the unique needs of each community.
“We are committed to developing and supporting strong regional communities, and these transitional arrangements strike the right balance between giving country students the same opportunities as city students to attend high school in Year 7 in 2022, while giving families and communities more time to adjust to this change if they need.”
The process for parents of students at eligible primary schools to seek a ‘by exception’ exemption will be outlined in a Education Department procedure to be developed with school leaders and other stakeholders. The procedure will also address factors for a principal to consider in order to grant an exemption and the process for eligible primary school to apply for grant funding.
The list of eligible schools, as well as a summary of the feedback received from the consultation, is available on the Department for Education website.