Year 7 Transition Program
The transition to secondary school can be challenging for both students and parents. At Damascus College we have a number of mechanisms to assist with this process through our Year 7 Transition Program.
Grade 5 students from Catholic Primary Schools are given the opportunity to spend one day undertaking classes at Damascus College. The classes are specially designed by our Transition Co-ordinator. The aim of the transition visit is to introduce students to the secondary school experience and more particularly, to the Damascus community. Transition visits are arranged with each individual Primary School during either Terms 2, 3 or 4.
Primary School Visits
The College’s Transition Co-ordinator visits or contacts local Primary Schools from which students have enrolled for Year 7 at Damascus College. This is a pastoral visit with Grade 6 students and/or their teachers which is held during Terms 3 and 4 each year. This visit is designed to answer the students’ questions and dispel any fears about the impending move to secondary school as well as to discuss the students’ particular needs, academic or otherwise, with teaching staff.
A Testing Day is held each year in October for students enrolled to commence Year 7 the following year. Testing is conducted on a Saturday morning. Testing dates are published on the College website. Testing is undertaken to gauge the overall literacy and numeracy standard of students as they enter secondary school. This assists the College in providing the best educational and pastoral support for students as they commence Year 7.
A full day Orientation for students enrolled in Year 7 the following year is held in December each year. The date for Orientation Day is published on the College website. On Orientation Day, students will be advised which House and Teacher Advisor group they will belong to the following year. Orientation Day is an opportunity for students to spend time in these different groups and to get to know their new peers and teachers, as well as familiarise themselves with the secondary school environment. To assist those students who currently attend primary schools with low enrolment numbers and who are hence unfamiliar with a large volume of peers, Damascus College offers an early transition day in addition to the formal Year 7 Orientation Day for some students.
Year 7 Camp
Year 7 students participate in their first secondary school camp experience in Term 1. Year 7 camp is normally held in February each year at a location near Ballarat. The purpose of the Year 7 Camp is to develop relationships with staff and other students, to learn or extend skills and to explore values. Students rotate through the overnight camp in their House groups over a one week period. Year 7 Camp is an extremely enjoyable and beneficial experience for students and is an important element of their transition from primary school to secondary school.
Year 7 STRIDE Program
The STRIDE Program is a Peer Support initiative whereby Year 10 and 11 students work with a small group of Year 7 students to encourage discussion about issues and problems they may encounter or are already facing during their transition into secondary school. The older students act as mentors, educating the Year 7 students on how to handle peer pressures, and they provide support and teach life skills which empower the younger students.
The overall aim of the Peer Support program is to build the self-esteem and confidence of our Year 7 students by connecting them through friendship and structured activities with older students. This results in a reduction of bullying incidences and a more cohesive and friendly school environment.
The mentors are trained by the Peer Mentor Staff in the preceding year and meet with their Year 7 group regularly during Semester 1. All Year 7 students participate in this program.