In 2013 Meridan State College officially rebranded its middle school, under the banner of ‘Junior Secondary’. This is the result of a culmination of a number of years of educational reform in the middle years of schooling, centred on innovative programs and our unique ‘Community Structure’, all of which align with the Junior Secondary Agenda. Our Year 7, 8 and 9 students are engaged in stimulating and challenging learning environments, where pedagogical practices have been tailored to engage adolescents in learning, during, what is, the most challenging social, emotional, physical and intellectual time in their young lives. The work currently being done by our talented and dedicated staff is best practice and sustainable and the processes are transferrable to other contexts.
Meridan State College has engaged in an ongoing process of conceptualisation, actualisation and reflection that has resulted in a shared vision and values for educating Junior Secondary students that focuses on:
Lifelong Learning; and
Quality outcomes and continuous improvement for students are being achieved through the creation of a unique, student-focused sub school structure; our ‘Community Structure’. Year 7 students are allocated to a ‘Community’ and remain together, in Community Classes, during their journey through the Junior Secondary years. This establishes a sense of belonging and ownership of learning, by teaching teams and students, within a positive learning climate.
The Community Leader remains the constant, key contact person and first reference point, to support students and parents during Years 7, 8 and 9. The role of the Community Leader is the key to the success of Junior Secondary at Meridan State College. The Community Structure has created a dynamic platform from which staff measure, monitor, track, and give feedback on student data and performance. The Community Structure is the key to the success of Junior Secondary as it:
Establishes smaller communities of students within the larger school context.
Provides an identity and sense of belonging for students within a large school.
Allows more individualised and focused pastoral care, student support and assistance.
Allows students and parents/carers to develop a close relationship with a group of students and a smaller team of staff.
Allows students to be more effectively supported and tracked through Years 7, 8 and 9.
Encourages team work, shared success and celebration of achievements.
All students and staff in Years 7, 8 and 9 are grouped into Communities. Students in each Mentor Class (Home Group) and all Core Teachers for each particular Mentor Class, belong to the same Community, thereby fostering opportunities for students to develop a strong network of support involving teachers, students and support staff across the three years they are in Junior Secondary.
Each Community is led by Community Leaders. The Community Leaders are recognised as teacher leaders, who have undertaken additional professional learning and have shown a particular aptitude for developing relationships with students, parents and staff. They provide a valuable role in supporting student welfare, liaising with parents/carers and supporting teachers to work in Community Teaching Teams to assist students to achieve socially, emotionally, physically and academically.
The Community Leaders and Core Teachers work with students as they progress from one year to the next, supporting the transition of students across each year level juncture and providing some consistency of teacher contact as students expand their capacity to work within the more complex secondary school environment, gradually moving from one core teacher in Year 7 to multiple core teachers in Year 9.
The Community Structure also extends to the Primary and Senior Sub Schools for College events and for student mentoring and buddy programs.
Primary, Junior Secondary and Senior Secondary School students have the opportunity to work together each term to foster positive and caring relationships across P-12, further supporting the transition of students from one sub school to the next.
Student achievement and wellbeing is facilitated in each Community, via a range of dedicated programs, designed around precision teaching and personalised learning, and is supported by ongoing professional development for staff. These innovative programs include the:
These programs have been strategically developed to ensure students are able to work and learn at a supportive pace that is most suitable and relevant to their individual strengths and requirements, enabling a differentiated approach to learning, which is data-driven. The most exciting outcome is that students are accepting responsibility and being accountable for the planning, organising, participating in, and reflecting on their learning!