Homebush West Public School has an effective approach in preparing students for secondary school
The school, in the inner west of Sydney, places a strong emphasis on preparing its students for the transition to secondary school. This case study looks at their ‘middle school’ approach, where Year 5 and 6 students are introduced to secondary school structures and routines to prepare them for the transition.
‘Middle school’ helps emphasise the important transition the students will face
When students reach Year 5, the concept of ‘middle school’ is introduced. The students are given more responsibility and are provided opportunities to step into leadership roles. There is also a focus on teaching students to be more responsible for their own learning, including setting learning goals and participating in peer and self-assessment.
The approach allows students to experience secondary school structures and routines
This involves individual student timetables that require students to change classrooms, classmates and teachers according to subject and ability. The students say that this approach allows them to build relationships with more than one teacher and get used to differing teaching approaches and teacher expectations. It also creates opportunities for students to continue making new friends across the cohort.
The staff at Homebush West collaborate, engage in reflective teaching and foster a culture of high expectations
With their unique ‘middle school’ approach, the staff at Homebush West recognise the need to continually refine practice and to be able to differentiate learning to meet the needs of all Year 5 and 6 students. They also attest to the high levels of organisation and communication that are needed to facilitate this approach. They have a constant focus on high expectations, helping students to recognise the opportunities of secondary school and feel confident and excited about the transition.
This course allows educators to explore the provision of advocacy and support in NSW schools and connect education theory with their own practice.
Mode of delivery: online
Accredited hours: 1.5
myPL course code: RG03816
Themes: support for learning, advocacy
Learn more about the Supporting students' learning publications.
CESE talks to school leaders from two NSW schools about how they provide a supportive learning environment for their students.
Featuring: Samuel Cox, CESE.
Murray Kitteringham and Melanie Check, Sir Joseph Banks High School.
Helen Polios, Whalan Public School.
Read the transcript (PDF, 106kB).
The Supporting students' learning - insights from students, parents and teachers (PDF, 1MB) learning curve presents findings from the 2016 Tell Them From Me school surveys completed by primary and secondary students, parents/carer and teachers in NSW government schools. Students provide feedback on how much support they receive from their teachers and their parents/carers, while responses from teachers and parent/carers indicate how much support they provide in school and at home, respectively. It draws on all three perspectives to explore the provision of advocacy and support and how this varies for different groups of students at different stages of school.
The Supporting students' learning - resources and case studies for schools, teachers and parents (PDF, 808kB) accompanies the learning curve, providing evidence-based strategies and two case studies that describe how to create supportive learning environments.
Read the audio paper transcript (PDF, 106kB).
Alongside effective teaching practices, students need a supportive learning environment to succeed. In an education context, advocacy and support for learning refers to the active consideration of, and support for, students’ academic and wellbeing needs.
The NSW Department of Education Strategic Plan 2018-2022 includes the commitment to ensure that every student is known, valued and cared for in our schools. School advocacy and support for learning are necessary components for happy and successful students. Schools can use the department’s Tell Them From Me surveys to engage with, clarify and strengthen the important relationship between teachers, parents and schools by providing an evidence-based platform to capture feedback. This knowledge can then help build an accurate and timely picture that schools can use for practical improvements.
The summary on this page is also available as a PDF. Download the summary of the two publications (PDF, 180kB).
This transition period is important because of the impact it may have on students’ engagement in learning and their sense of belonging at school. This publication examines the relationship between students’ sense of belonging and other types of engagement across the transition from primary to secondary. It includes an analysis of 12,000 students who completed surveys in Year 6, and then again in Year 7.
This decline is experienced even more by students from low-socioeconomic backgrounds and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. Between Year 6 and Year 7, there is a decline in the percentage of students who value school outcomes and those who are trying hard to succeed. Students’ sense of belonging also declines over the transition.
Students who report having a positive sense of belonging in Year 6 are more likely to have a positive sense of belonging in Year 7. Factors that help influence a student’s sense of belonging at the beginning of high school include their relationships with teachers and peers, the support they receive at school and at home, and school practice.
Primary schools should be attentive to Year 6 students’ sense of belonging and their relationships with teachers and peers, especially in the lead up to the transition. Secondary schools should develop strong, supportive student-teacher relationships as early as possible. There are more practical tips on how to do this in the publication and the Homebush West case study.
The Primary school engagement and wellbeing publication (PDF, 1.1MB) presents findings from the 2015 Tell Them From Me primary school survey. The survey measures the engagement of primary students in Years 4, 5 and 6 and classroom, school and family factors that influence student engagement and achievement.
Learn more about the Tell Them From Me surveys.
Student voice refers to the views of students on their own schooling. This publication explores:
• why student voice should be measured
• how and when it should be measured
• what questions can and should be asked
• how student voice should be interpreted.
The act of capturing student voice gives students the opportunity to provide feedback and influence their own school experience. This can have an impact on their effort, participation and engagement in learning. Student feedback may also help teachers develop new perspectives on their teaching and can contribute to broader areas of school planning and improvement.
It is important to consider how student feedback is intended to be used. This will help inform when to capture the feedback, which methods are best for capturing the feedback and what questions to ask. Measuring student voice over time can help examine whether particular strategies have led to changes in the way students perceive school or learning.
Tell Them From Me is a suite of surveys used across NSW public schools. The surveys can help schools understand students’ perspectives on their school experience, including their engagement, wellbeing and exposure to quality teaching practices. Read the Tell Them From Me case studies to learn how other NSW schools have used Tell Them From Me for school planning and improvement.
Tell Them From Me is an online survey system that assists schools to capture the views of students, teachers and parents. The following case studies highlight how a variety of government schools have used Tell Them From Me survey data to identify and make broad improvements to student engagement, wellbeing and teaching practices.
Macquarie Fields High School (PDF, 350kB) Using Tell Them From Me data as a starting point for consultation with the broader school community.
Northlakes High School (PDF, 1.4MB) Using Tell Them From Me data to identify issues and inform responses.
Berry Public School (PDF, 250kB) Using Tell Them From Me to capture student, teacher and parent voice and inform responses.
Fairvale High School (PDF, 960kB) Using Tell Them From Me to set targets for school improvement in the school plan.
Hammondville Public School (PDF, 250kB) Using Tell Them From Me to improve teaching practices.
Student engagement and wellbeing in NSW (PDF, 2MB) presents findings from a pilot study undertaken in 2013 which measured student engagement, wellbeing and quality teaching in a group of NSW government secondary schools.