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BY FIVE: Making school transition more joined up for little people and their families in Horsham


Moving between school years, and from an early years setting to prep, is set to become more streamlined for Horsham children and their families thanks to a new initiative underway across the town.

Childrens drawings of what you need to know about starting schoolFor the past year, the Horsham Transition Group - made up of a number of representatives from the town’s schools and early childhood sector - has been focused on finding out what Horsham children and their parents think about the school transition experience, and ensuring it is as smooth as possible.

“The more knowledge you have of a child as an individual, the more awareness you have of a little person’s needs emotionally and socially, and the more you know about the background they bring into the classroom, the more effective a program you can offer from the beginning,” explains Sandra Hood, Assistant Principal of Horsham Primary School and co-ordinator of the Transition Group, who explains that kinder teachers currently provide transition statements for each child moving to school.

Children and their parents have now been surveyed for this whole of Horsham initiative which is part of the Wimmera Southern Mallee Early Years Project, or BY FIVE. Parents have attended forums and provided input on Facebook pages, while kinder children were surveyed about what they wanted to know about school, and prep children were asked what kinder children needed to know.

“The kids wanted to know about the rules,” explains Mrs Hood. “It was really interesting. Perhaps parents are saying “You won’t be able to do that at school.”

She adds that kinder children were also interested to know where the playground and toilets were, while prep children thought kinder kids should know all about putting their hands up.

Parents wanted to be more involved in transition, while they also sought opportunities to meet other parents and to understand more about school readiness.

Mrs Hood explains that the project now aims to expand to include all primary schools in the town, and a greater number of kindergartens and early years settings.

As for the future, Mrs Hood believes that ideally there might be a dedicated person employed in Horsham to establish a network that promotes regular communication, provides joint Professional Development and ensures smooth early years to Prep transition. Policy change that sees kinder teachers allocated more time for transition and joint curriculum planning would also be a future goal.

“The more we can do to make this process as smooth as possible, the greater the benefit to our little people and their families,” adds Mrs Hood.

The BY FIVE project is one of the first Wimmera Southern Mallee (WSM) Regional Partnership-driven projects to get off the ground and is a partnership with the Department of Education and Training (DET) and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), with support from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.

The project came out of the Regional Partnership Assembly process with the WSM community identifying in 2016 that improving early years’ outcomes in the region was a major priority.

BY FIVE is working in five clusters in the region – including in Horsham – to see where improvements can be made to ensure early years services in each community are joined up and working effectively for families and children. It is seeking bespoke place-based solutions to meet local needs.

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