Focus on primary partnerships revitalises high school

Engaging with feeder primary schools helped Sir Joseph Banks High School to double its Year 7 enrolments in four years.

When principal Murray Kitteringham started at Sir Joseph Banks High School in Revesby four years ago as the “new kid on the block” the school needed to make big changes to grow its student numbers.

In 2015 there were just 63 students enrolled for Year 7.

“This year, Year 7 enrolments have doubled, up to 128 students, which we are very happy about.”

Talking to Department of Education Secretary Mark Scott in the latest episode of the Every Student Podcast, Mr Kitteringham said the enrolment increase was the result of working with local primary schools to support students as they transitioned into high school.

“We have gone to our primary schools, we have had an open conversation with them and developed what has now become a community of schools,” he said.

The community of schools now engages in collaborative staff development and ongoing transition activities – not just with Year 5 and 6 students, but all the way through from Kindergarten.

Transition was a major point of the discussion, with the Secretary pointing to the shift in how students were treated as they entered Year 7.

“We don’t recognise the great things that kids in Year 6 do,” Mr Scott said.

“They are leaders and running assemblies and they’re lead role in the school play and instruments in the orchestra and they are just out there and so full of life. They have six weeks over summer and we make them little kids again at the bottom of the pecking order.”

Mr Kitteringham agreed and said it was particularly important to keep students engaged in Year 7.

“Kids lose interest when they come into high school,” Mr Kitteringham said. “Their relationships with their peers are fundamental for their learning success; if they are not happy and comfortable and safe then they are not as open to learning.”

He said the concept of transition continued throughout the high school journey, shifting towards the move to post-school options including training, work and university. “We want every student to leave with one foot into their future.”

“We have a student support officer, who is a youth worker, employed in the school.”

“That not only helps us with kids that are having difficulties with their relationships, with their peers and with themselves and connecting with self, but she also connects disengaged students to the community.”

Listen to the full episode now:

Read the transcript of Every Student Podcast: Murray Kitteringham.

NSW Department of Education

This story was written by the NSW Department of Education. School News shares it with permission.

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