Victorian students struggle with the transition to high school

More needs to be done to support students in their transition from primary to secondary school, according to a new report by Victorian Auditor-General John Doyle. The report assessed whether the Department of Education and Training (DET), government schools and early childhood education and care providers are effectively supporting students in their transition to Prep and from primary to secondary school. We summarise some of the key findings below:

  • While the report praised DET's framework to support students when they first begin school, it highlighted the need for a similar framework for middle-years transition.
  • Boys, Indigenous students, students with disability and those from low socioeconomic backgrounds are most likely to struggle with the transition.
  • Absenteeism and suspensions increase as students transition to high school, with students taking an average of 20 days off in Year 8 compared to 15 in Year 6.
  • More than eight per cent of boys in Year 7 and just over 10 per cent in Year 8 were suspended from Victorian government schools last year, compared to just over two per cent of Year 6 boys. Suspension rates for girls were significantly lower, with close to four per cent of Year 8 girls and less than one per cent of Year 6 girls receiving suspensions in 2014.
  • In terms of academic performance, teacher assessments show a drop in performance immediately after students transition to high school. NAPLAN results are mixed, with students showing improvements in literacy and numeracy, but decreased results in writing, particularly among boys, with the number of students at or above the minimum standard dropping between Year 5 and Year 7.
  • While student engagement with school has increased overall in recent years, there is a notable drop in engagement during the middle-years transition period.
  • Secondary schools struggle to maintain good relationships with the large number of primary schools Year 7 students transition from and tend to rely on written information.
  • There is a lack of understanding about the use and disclosure of information in relation to privacy legislation and, as a result, student information is not being transferred as effectively and completely as it could be.

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