Over the past 12 months the leadership and management team of the school has been examining the viability of continuing to offer Year 10. The pros and cons were presented to the School Board late in 2020 and it was determined at that meeting that Year 10 would be phased out of the Middle School.
As our parent body knows, Montessori cycles cover a 3-year range and are based on the developmental phases of children and young people as observed by Dr Maria Montessori. Cycle 4 consists of Years 7, 8 and 9 (12-15 years).
When the school established Wairoa campus and the Adolescent Program in 2011, we also sought registration for Year 10 and commenced offering this ‘senior year’ in 2013. At that time, some senior secondary schools in Adelaide did not offer Year 10 and we wanted our graduates to have a continuous pathway through to senior schooling. As of 2020 this is no longer the case and all senior secondary pathway options now offer Year 10 as part of their senior school programs. For students who want to take an academic pathway we see the senior secondary schools in Adelaide (those specialising in Year 10, 11 and 12) as an excellent option. These schools are seeking students who are independent, who take responsibility for their learning, who can manage and prioritise their time – many of the key tenets of the Montessori philosophy. These schools tend to be very good academic options for our graduates.
Over the years that Wairoa has been operating, we have always had very small Year 10 cohorts, ranging from 2-5 students. Last year we had no Year 10 students, and this year we have three students. We have proudly offered a very personalised and individualised Year 10 program, and feedback has shown that it has prepared students well for senior studies; however covering the required curriculum has been a juggle at times with the resources of our deliberately small school, and for students there has only been a tiny academic cohort to work and collaborate with.
Eleven years since establishing our Adolescent Program, we believe that the reasons for offering Year 10 at Wairoa have shifted, and that there are now very good pathway options available for all of our students in the range of senior secondary school possibilities.
We understand that some families may have been considering Year 10 at Wairoa as an option for their child. We have recently met with Wairoa families who have young people in Year 9 to talk through options for those students. We are committed to working with all families to plan suitable senior school pathways for students.
Going forward we will cease offering Year 10 at Wairoa after 2022. Rather we will focus on and specialise in offering the exemplary, rich and engaging Cycle 4 program for young adolescents of 12-15 year olds.