The transition between year 8 and 9 is expected to get even easier for students at Rangeview Intermediate with the introduction of a homeroom structure.
Principal Dave Latimer made the announcement this week, just a month after shock announcements to cut the number of teachers at intermediates and lift classroom numbers.
While Education Minister Hekia Parata's decision was pulled back, the suggestion was enough to send Mr Latimer to the drawing board to find ways to make intermediates more relevant and engaging.
"This idea initially came from the shock we got after the Government's Budget day when staffing funding was to be cut."
He says the backlash over the decision from staff and parents let him know how strongly people felt about smaller classes and the accessibility of specialist subjects offered at intermediate.
"We dodged a bullet then but we went away with what we had learned from that and thought, how can we make class sizes smaller and how can we get teachers teaching their passion?" Mr Latimer says.
"And of course how can we better prepare our kids for high school."
Rangeview's new structure will see classes gather each morning in homerooms before moving to be with specialist teachers for subjects such as maths, English, science, arts, technology and languages, in five one-hour blocks.
"Being the first intermediate in West Auckland to have homerooms and specialist subject classes where teachers' skills are used best will align Rangeview Intermediate with the same structure as most secondary schools," he says.
"The reality is all schools are competing for the attention of parents wanting to give their children the best education possible and we believe having homerooms and specialist teaching subject classes sets us apart."
The school plans to have at least 33 homerooms in which each child will stay throughout their two years at intermediate.
Mr Latimer hopes this will help build rapport between the students and teacher. Each teacher will then have two or three specialties to teach from eight curriculum subjects.
He says parents of current and future students have been sent letters explaining the changes which will come into effect at the beginning of next year.
"We prioritise engaging with parents and the wider school community and it's important everyone understands the exciting potential of the new structure."
Board of Trustees chairman Derek van Beynen says the school is fortunate to have a sufficient number of staff to carry out the changes.
"We had to make sure we had the right amount of teaching resources. You're always going to be a better teacher when you truly love the subject you're teaching and we were lucky enough to have teachers who had a particular preference for each subject," he says.
"It's about future-proofing the school should further budget cuts happen and they are inevitable."
- Western Leader
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