Understanding Junior Secondary and Middle Years Education

The full implementation of the shift of year 7 to secondary has now occurred.

In 2015, almost 99,000 Queensland students left primary school to start high school in Year 7, located there for the first time.

Simultaneously, state schools achieved what has been identified as the biggest education reform in the last 50 years, as alongside the shift of Year 7 students from primary into high school settings, the establishment of Junior Secondary for Years 7 – 9 was implemented.

The School of Education and Professional Studies (EPS) has been playing an important role in school reform across Queensland to aid with these transitions.

EPS Dean and Head of School, Professor Donna Pendergast, has led the projects, which focus on getting ready for school, getting ready for high school and boosting the performance of all schools.

“The Junior Secondary Leading Change Program was delivered as a key element to prepare for this transformation. This multifaceted program was developed to build capacity in school leaders to enable effective change processes in 258 schools. Feedback about the shift has been described to be ‘a success‘, ‘positive change‘ and ‘one of the great success stories of Queensland education‘.”

Junior Secondary is now being implemented in all schools in Queensland that teach years 7-9.

“The teaching curriculum has changed to reflect this major shift. One of the real benefits is for Year 7 students to have access to subject specialists, e.g. in science and mathematics, one year earlier than prior to this reform.”

What is the difference between Middle Years Education and Junior Secondary?

“Middle years is a broader category than Junior Secondary. Middle year’s students refers to young adolescents in the broadest sense, and so includes the range of Years 6-9 and age 10-15 years. Junior Secondary is a slice of this group of young people.”

“It is very important for the sustainability of the Junior Secondary initiative that majors and distinct programs, both undergraduate and graduate, exist in the field of middle year’s education.”

“Having teachers who are expert means they have a desire to work in these years and to specialise their capabilities.”

Middle years education is about understanding the unique teaching and learning needs of young adolescents and about shaping curriculum, pedagogy and assessment practices to optimise engagement and participation at a time that is most vulnerable in terms of students disengaging from learning and not achieving their potential.

The need has never been greater and the future never brighter.