It's great to see the Auditor General releasing another report exposing issues DET would rather ignore or hush up. ( It's a good thing the electors of Victoria didn't let Jeff Kennett interfere with the AGs Department.) This time it's about the plight of year 8 boys and problems they have with transition.
More than 10 per cent of Year 8 boys were suspended from Victorian state schools last year as students struggled to transition from primary to secondary school.
A report by Victorian Auditor-General John Doyle said the Department of Education was not doing enough to help students move from Grade 6 to Year 7.
"In some measures, children's academic outcomes and engagement with school decline after transitioning to secondary school. Boys' performance declines faster than girls," he said.
Boys, Aboriginal students, disabled children and those from low socio-economic backgrounds are more likely to have a "poor transition".
The Auditor-General praised the Department's "comprehensive and well-researched" framework to support early-years transitions. He said Prep teachers assessed their students as ahead in expected levels for English and Maths.
When students reach high school, however, teacher assessments show a drop in performance "immediately following the middle-years transition." NAPLAN results reveal improvements in literacy and numeracy during this time. "However, the NAPLAN writing results appear to be significantly impacted by the transition – with boys most heavily impacted."
Mr Doyle called on the Department to provide schools with gender-specific support and guidance.
"The persistence of gender differences in educational outcomes suggests that DET's current and historical approach is not working and change is needed."
Maintaining strong relationships with feeder schools can be challenging. One of the audited secondary schools received 271 new Year 7 students from 48 separate primary schools.( I have always been underwhelmed by active transition contact between secondary schools and Glen Park over the years)
He made seven recommendations, including that the Department provide schools with better advice on middle-years transitions, and improve the way it monitors outcomes as children move through school.
Education Minister James Merlino said the report highlighted good practices and areas that could be improved. He vowed to "repair the damage".