Saturday, March 9, 2013

Finding a high school for Miss 11

I know I’ve been neglecting my blog over the last couple of months.  This is mainly due to “life” – and in particular most of my spare time has been taken up with a hunt for a suitable high school for Miss 11.

She is currently in year 6.  Our schools in this state are structured as year 1 – 7 is primary school (yes there is pre-school / kindergarten before that) and then year 8 – 12 is high school.

From 2015, year 7 will change to being “high school”.  Well actually it will be mandatory for year 7 to be part of high school from 2015, many of the private schools have already made the change and are now structured as year 7 – 9 being middle school and 10 – 12 being upper school.

But state (public) schools aren’t doing this yet.  They won’t have be taking year 7 children into the high schools until 2015.

Miss 11 is in a private school and from latest rumours no other students in year 6 will be going into year 7 at the school, they’re all going into year 7 at private high schools.

We could do the same for Miss 11.  HOWEVER, in our public high school system there are a number of specialist programs that sound interesting.

The first is the “Gifted and Talented Program” (referred to as “GATE”).  There is a possibility that she could get into this and undertake the program at one of the local high schools.  We visited the school last week and she really like it and the Principal.  It’s a BIG school – current school population of 1500 but it didn’t feel crowded.  In fact, we were wondering where all the kids were (the Principal said he thought that they were all playing truant!).

Entrance to the GATE program is via a series of tests held on one day (May), with offers for places in August / September.  Last year there were 850 places across the state with 2400 children sitting the exam.

As this program is relatively difficult to get into, and comes down the child’s performance on the day we have also looked at alternatives.  The other programs offered by the public school system are known as “Specialist Programs

There are three that interest Miss 11:

  • Lesmurdie – Maths and Science
  • Kalamunda – Outdoor Adventure
  • Kelmscott – Specialist Agriculture

All of these programs are offered to the students in the school district first (we aren’t in any of these districts) and then if there are places available out of area students can apply.

For two of these (Lesmurdie & Kelmscott) entrance is via an exam and the third (Kalamunda) entrance is via a written application and portfolio.

For Lesmurdie the exam will be held around September, for the other two schools applications will be processed in March next year.

And this is where the difficultly lays.

If she doesn’t get into any of these four programs (GATE & the Specialist ones) then we will not know this until mid-next year, by which time all of the private schools (we would not consider sending her to a public school outside of these programs) would have commenced their “middle school” structure.

Now we have found one private school – that Miss 11 liked a lot - that was happy to take her in year 8 if she wanted to stay at her current school until then, IF there are places available once the year 7 intake has been finalised.

So basically now it’s “wait and see”.  She’s sitting a trial exam next Saturday to give her an idea of what the GATE exam (and those for the Specialist Programs) would be like.  But realistically we may not know the outcome until mid-next year.

The other issue we face is that she might be the only year 7 in her current school next year.  Currently there are 13 children in year 6 and only 5 in year 7 (they’re all in a combined year 6/7 class).  I am not sure how well this structure will work (and even if it’s possible) if she is the only year 7 (the current year 5s are in a mixed 4/5 class).



Suldog said...

Best of luck! It sounds as though quite a few kids will probably fall through a gap or two while the system is being realigned.

Old NFO said...

Ouch, not a lot of fun on any side... and the not knowing will eat on everybody. Hope it works in her (and y'alls) favor!

Paxford said...

Is it possible to send her to the school that her friends will be attending - and if you are successful with the other applications - swap then?
(I can't recall from my days at Catholic Girls School requiring to sign a multi-year contract. but then again - that was back in the stone age I'm told :D)


Julie said...

Thanks Suldog - I think there are going to be lots of issues that haven't been fully thought through yet!

Thanks OldNFO ... stay tuned :)

Paxford - we have taken this into consideration but the benefit of one of the specialist programs, in our opinion and hers, outweighs "I want to be with my friends" - interestingly enough this isn't something she is concerned about. I guess she sees them at other activities (basketball / scouts) and chats to them of Facebook and the like.
We're not really keen to put her in one school for a year then change her (to say nothing of the $670 enrollment fee and uniform costs!).

Anonymous said...

It is hard Julie. Over here in Melbourne Jazmyn starts high school next year. Now her current school offers a 7 to 9 middle school program but she is thinking of following her friends to a normal high school, that's has year 7 to 12. I would like her to stay put, her current school knows her difficulties but then she said in year 10 when she swaps over she would have to make new friends when friendships would be well establish. It is hard to decide weather to let her make the choice or me. Sorry that's my vent I do not think there is any right or wrong answers it comes down to gut instincts I think. Good luck.