An Innovative South Australian School Just Got Rid Of Years 8, 9 & 10

While Aussie politicians are currently arguing in Question Time about whether to make rich parents pay for their children to go to public schools, a public school in South Australia have done gone and just completely overhauled the school system altogether.

No teen readers – you won’t get a 3 year holiday. Instead of traditional year levels grouped by age, there’ll be five ‘streamed’ levels in each subject that are determined by the grades each student receives.  For example, if a student is receiving mainly D’s, they will be moved to a lower group with specialist support until they are receiving a C average again. 
These changes are an attempt to give more support to failing students, and stop students from dropping out. The changes are said to guarantee that all students will, at the end of the three years, be ready for the beginning of their SACE in Year 11. 
The changes will be affecting northern suburbs public school, Fremont-Elizabeth City High School. The northern suburbs school has suffered from a high average of bad grades (a quarter of all students receive D & E grades), behavioural problems, and low attendance. Principal Rob Knight is hoping that the new system will make a drastic change to students’ passion and success:
“It’s not acceptable for a student to opt out of their learning. If we can make this work in one of the most disadvantaged and marginalised communities in Australia, then it can become a blueprint that can be rolled out in other schools.”
But that’s not all. Other changes included in the overhaul are: 
  • Year 6 & 7 students will spend a significant amount more time at Fremont-Elizabeth, to free up primary school resources, and help them assimilate into high school.
  • Lessons will start later, due to research showing adolescent sleep patterns would benefit more from a 9:30am start. Lessons will also be 80 minutes long. 
  • Maths, physics and chemistry classes will be replaced with general science/technology classes that focus on real-world problem-solving. 
  • Schools will open from 8am – 5pm to give all students access to facilities for their own study outside of their class time. 
  • Staff will go through accredited training in pedagogy, literacy and numeracy teaching, online learning, assessment and moderation and student wellbeing.
  • Students up to Year 11 will take part in Academic Pathways or Civics and Citizenship programs according to their interests, ranging from robotics and film production to charity and environmental work.
  • A martial arts organisation will run a violence diversion program, to help troubled students with discipline and anger management. 
  • A proposed name change to Playford International College, to reflect growing numbers of migrant students. The colour black will also be added to the school flag in honour of the large amount of Indigenous students enrolled at the college.  
Education Minister Susan Close supported Knight’s changes, saying his “bold and innovative ideas” could have “a dramatic effect on student learning”. 
“We will continue to liaise with him and I will watch with interest how his students develop and thrive.”

The school is the biggest beneficiary of the $25 million allocated to school upgrades in the state budget that was announced last week. 

Image: Dean Martin via The Advertiser