News » Small Schools: Big OpportunitiesLast updated 9:27 AM on 2 September 2013
Small school education has long been associated with a family-like learning experience and last week as students from several small schools within The Cessnock Community of Great Public Schools (CCGPS) attend a joint school camp, went on a transport excursion and combined for a tabloid day, this has never been more true.
As part of a commitment to combined small schools opportunities aimed at strengthening cross-school relationships and developing independence, more than 60 Stage 3 students, as well as Principals, teachers and support staff from many of our small schools headed north for three days of fun and bonding at The Great Aussie Bush Camp.
"Students really enjoy the opportunity to mix with peers from other small schools and these are the relationships which will be so important as these students prepare for transition to high school", said Scott Anderson, Principal of Millfield Public School.
"Small Schools offer a unique learning experience; they ensure the same high level of teacher expertise as the larger schools and provide a learning environment which is focused on nurturing the individual capacities of each and every student. Our small schools are without a doubt, the heart of their communities ", Scott said. "Local school celebrations such as the Laguna Art Exhibition held last weekend, Kearsley Public School's Music Extravaganza to be held on the 18th/19th September, and the highly anticipated 125th Anniversary celebrations this Sunday at Congewai Public School, help to strengthen the community and give students a strong sense of identity and belonging."
About half of the primary schools within the CCGPS are classified as small schools and as such an acute awareness for how these students' learning needs can best be met is vital, particularly as they go from "big fish in a small pond to small fish in a big pond". A team of local educators recently conducted a study in which they found that although students from small schools transitioning to high school did experience the usual fears about stepping into a new and unfamiliar setting, they generally felt well prepared and excited about this next step in their learning pathway.
The research found that the orientation and transition processes existing across the small school and the partner high school settings enabled students to interact with the high school teachers, students and environment, giving them greater familiarity and confidence to take on new challenges. Parent surveys also suggest that they believe small schools are ideal settings for children to learn resilience and develop social behaviours which support s effective transitions.