In line with all Queensland schools, Centenary Heights State High School formally introduced Junior Secondary Schooling in 2013. The aim of our Junior Secondary Program is to support students in their move from primary to secondary schooling, providing an environment that supports their social, academic and emotional well-being. Year 7 became part of our Junior Secondary Program when it moved to high school in 2015. Please refer to the Summary Links for details on our preparation for the introduction of Year 7.
In all Queensland schools Junior Secondary is underpinned by six (6) guiding principles which provide a framework for our school to consider our practices, strategies and processes that best support and engage our young adolescents. At Centenary Heights State High School our Junior Secondary phase of learning has been implemented using these six key principles.
1. Distinct Identity: At Centenary Heights State High School we have a clear focus on students gaining a sense of belonging and connectedness to their school and to feeling safe and confident in a high school environment. It is for this reason we include programs and processes such as: students having their own home rooms and teachers; purpose-built facilities; a comprehensive Transition Program from primary to high school; a different uniform to our Senior School; class captains and Student Council representatives in each year level; identified staff keen to teach in the Junior Secondary environment; and Junior Secondary events identified in our school calendar.
2. Quality Teaching: This principle informs the practices and strategies that Centenary Heights State High School uses to develop a common repertoire of practices that successfully engages and challenges Junior Secondary students. Specifically our school identifies key staff to teach in our Transition Program – these teachers currently teach our twelve Year 8 classes. These same teachers participate in a professional development program that is responsive to the needs of Junior Secondary students. Our program has a clear focus on developing strong teacher/student relationships pivotal to quality learning in the classroom.
3. Student Wellbeing: Enhanced student wellbeing can contribute to improved academic achievement by increasing student motivation to participate and achieve; student engagement with, and participation in, learning, student attendance; and by decreasing the incidence of problem behaviour at school (DEEWR, 2008). Specifically at Centenary Heights State High School we have: designated Heads of Year and Pastoral Care teachers who work with the students on a ‘day to day’ basis; well-developed peer mentor programs linking our Senior students with our young students; a Pastoral Care Program targeting the needs of Junior Secondary students; strong links with primary schools as a part of our successful Transition Program; an established supportive, caring and inclusive school community that fosters school connectedness (safety, respect and learning underpins all that we do); and targeted activities designed to motivate our student including school camps and excursions.
4. Parent and Community Involvement: At Centenary Heights State High School we actively promote and value the connections between the family and school. These formal and informal connections are just as important in Junior Secondary as they are in primary school. Growing amounts of research clearly link parent involvement to student success at school. Our school has an active P&C Association, has parent representatives on the Junior Secondary Reference Group, has two Parent/Teacher/Student progress interviews each year, encourages parents to attend events such as sporting carnivals, Meet and Greet Evening, Gold Level and Graduation Ceremonies and class celebrations.
5. Leadership: Bell (2010) suggests that introducing leadership concepts to adolescents and giving them the language of leadership empowers them, enabling them to become more aware of their suitability for leadership roles in the future. Bennett (2010) cites research that identifies several components of moral development experiences by adolescent learners. The argument then suggests that Junior Secondary school is the appropriate time to provide leadership opportunities for students. At Centenary Heights State High School students are given the opportunity to become Class Captains in Year 8 and Year 8 & 9 Students Council Representatives. In 2015 when our Year 7 classes were formed they also had the opportunity to elect a class captain. The development of our teachers as leaders includes engaging them in the Junior Secondary reform by increasing their knowledge and understanding of young adolescent learners.
6. Local decision making: Local decision making has allowed our school to develop policies and practices in response to the particular needs and aspirations of our community. In a Junior Secondary school context, strong engagement with parents and the community provides Centenary Heights State High School with the opportunity to shape curriculum, teaching and leadership practices in a way that meets the needs and aspirations of the local community. A Flying Start Reference Group which included school staff representatives, partner primary schools and members of the wider community, met on a regular basis to plan for the successful implementation of Year 7 in 2015.