Need to set up middle schools

TINA LAW
Last updated 05:00 22/05/2012

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Christchurch's intermediate school principals want middle schools established as part of the city's new-look education sector.

In its submission to the Directions for Education Renewal in Greater Christchurch, the Canterbury Association for Intermediate and Middle Schooling said this was an opportunity to create traditions with new educational structures, particularly for middle-year pupils.

Association president Lee Walker said the group, which represents 11 schools, wanted to see middle schools created to encompass years 7 and 8, the first year of high school, year 9, and possibly year 10.

He said the idea was founded on research that showed it was essential that year 9 and 10 pupils had a solid relationship with a teacher they could identify with.

At intermediate school, pupils had one teacher for most of their core subjects, and when they went to secondary school they had several teachers.

Walker said high schools did a lot of work to ease the transition from intermediate school, but secondary school teachers would see about 120 pupils each day.

"A number of students can't bond because there are too many teachers," he said.

If middle schools were created, pupils would be able to retain regular contact with the same teacher they had during years 7 and 8, Walker said. A careful plan would be needed before the idea was implemented.

Some private schools in the city have adopted middle schools to help ease the transition.

The education renewal plan, released on May 10 and developed by the Education Ministry and the Tertiary Education Commission, discusses the future of education in Christchurch and the Selwyn and Waimakariri districts.

It proposes investigating the development of education campuses that could include early-childhood education, primary and secondary schools, and tertiary institutions on one site, along with social services.

Walker said the association supported this move, but there could be safety concerns about young children sharing a site with teenagers.

Submissions on the plan will close on May 31.

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