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Mainstream Secondary School Versus Extension


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#1 Nomad2

Posted 06 January 2020 - 08:44 AM

We have been planning a move interstate.  It’s complicated but I’ll leave out all the other strands and just talk about the educational dilemma. My DS12 is enrolled to start Year 7 in a local public inner Melbourne secondary school which offers a SEAL program.  He is a pretty good student.  He got Distinctions in three out of four of the ICAS tests he sat last year.  The other one he missed out on a Distinction by one question.  He is not the fastest worker and is a bit lazy.  Anyway, he has missed out on the SEAL program at the school that he is enrolled in.  There will be around 50 kids in the SEAL program and he’ll be with the remaining 150.

So I wonder can a school that has a SEAL program cater for reasonably academic kids who are outside that program?  I really like the school in general and it does offer really good opportunities otherwise, but I worry that he will not be challenged sufficiently for him to do well academically.  As well as being lazy he is also a bit timid and will tend to slip into the background in group activities, but his primary school had done well in encouraging him in this regard. To make matters more confusing, we had enrolled him in a local catholic school where we are planning to move from. This school is offering an extension class modeled on the Newman program.  We just got offered a place for him in that. My son doesn’t want to move though he did like the Melbourne school.

So my question is, can anybody tell me their own stories of kids who are reasonably academic that have done well in the mainstream of a school that has a SEAL program?

So much more to the move, but worrying that we are messing with his future a bit.  A bit stressful for us at the moment!  Thanks in advance for any feedback/advice!

#2 EsmeLennox

Posted 06 January 2020 - 09:11 AM

There are hundreds of schools that do not have SEAL programs and yet still manage to have students do well academically. IME, schools which run gifted and talented programs of any kind, tend to have a good approach to academia. They don’t throw the rest of the kids to the wolves, I think you’re possibly worrying more than you need to about this. Good luck.

Edited by EsmeLennox, 06 January 2020 - 09:11 AM.


#3 Dianalynch

Posted 06 January 2020 - 09:45 AM

I think it’s more a question of talking with the school to see how it will suit your son eg how they approach classroom differentiation, how they encourage a kid with less motivation, etc. Then determining if it is a good match.

issue I have with seal programs is they, depending on the school, can be a bit of a sheep dip - one near us promotes that they complete year 7 & 8 maths in the first year. What if your kid has already completed that? Or needs to do year 8 & 9? Or is high potential but may need to revise some earlier maths? Whereas without a seal program, the kids are generally taught to point of need, so it can be more individual. However it really depends on the school, so I’d say just talk to them and see if the general program is a good match for your son.

#4 SeaPrincess

Posted 06 January 2020 - 10:15 AM

Our high school has extension programs and it’s possible to be offered a place in any or all of the core subject extension classes. Not everyone pre-tests and there is some movement based on results. They have the extension classes, plus 3 separate pathways in each of the core subjects. Extension and pathway 1 cover the same material, and represent the majority of his year group of 270+ students.

#5 Julie3Girls

Posted 06 January 2020 - 10:39 AM

You really need to talk to the specific school, find out how they run things.
Our high school runs an extension class. Entry in yr7 by exam and interview.
But you still have to work to keep your place in the class.
The first few weeks of yr7 at our school tend to have a lot of baseline testing. My oldest Dd hadn’t sat the testing for the extension class (primary school teacher didn’t put her forward for it). The school was willing to move her to the extension class after just 3 weeks of seeing her work. We didn’t move her, for a number of reasons. But they continues to extend her in the mainstream class and she was moved up in yr8.

High school is a big change, there are always going to be some kids who don’t fit the extension levels, either due to academics or attitude. And others who excel in the different environment and need to be moved up.


#6 FuzzyChocolateToes

Posted 06 January 2020 - 12:08 PM

I'm guessing the school begins with U? If so, the school is well regarded and places are in great demand.

My kids are in an extension program at a different school. The ciscohoin the extension class remains the same from year 7 to year 9. However each year they lose a few kids to different schools, so other kids can then gain entry to the extension program. This happens moreso at year 9, as some kids leave for one of the selective schools that are 9-12 only.

You will have to ask the school for more info.

Edited by FuzzyChocolateToes, 06 January 2020 - 10:51 PM.


#7 Nomad2

Posted 06 January 2020 - 01:41 PM

 FuzzyChocolateToes, on 06 January 2020 - 12:08 PM, said:

I'm guessing the school begins with U? If so, the school is well regarded and places are in great demand.

No the school doesn’t start with a ‘U’ but is also in reasonable demand. Thanks for the feedback.

#8 Fahrook

Posted 06 January 2020 - 01:42 PM

If it’s the school that FCT is referring to I would check with the school what extension opportunities are available for mainstream students.  There would definitely be some as it’s a high performing school in VCE.

My son is in the SEAL program there.  The year 7 & 8 SEAL class is almost all from out of zone so the students live far and wide.  He finished year 8 last year and 2/3 of his SEAL class have left and are going to the selective schools this year.  The school opens up those vacated year 9 places to able mainstream students of the school only (no out of zone enrolments).  So if your son finds that mainstream is not challenging, he can apply for SEAL in year 9.

#9 Fahrook

Posted 06 January 2020 - 01:46 PM

Oops, just saw your new post after I posted.

#10 Beancat

Posted 06 January 2020 - 03:16 PM

I had a connection to an outer melb school with a SEAL program and let me say there was NO academic extension for those not in the SEAL program.  The teachers did well just to control the very large number of students with behavioural challenges and there was very little time left to focus on the actual curriculum content, let alone supporting the more academically advanced kids who may have just missed out on SEAL.  There was a VERY clear line between the SEAL and standard kids.  I am not saying this is typical but just what I observed at one school

#11 DirtyStreetPie

Posted 06 January 2020 - 04:00 PM

 Beancat, on 06 January 2020 - 03:16 PM, said:

I had a connection to an outer melb school with a SEAL program and let me say there was NO academic extension for those not in the SEAL program.  The teachers did well just to control the very large number of students with behavioural challenges and there was very little time left to focus on the actual curriculum content, let alone supporting the more academically advanced kids who may have just missed out on SEAL.  There was a VERY clear line between the SEAL and standard kids.  I am not saying this is typical but just what I observed at one school

That must be the school I work at! You have described my working conditions with absolute accuracy, unfortunately.

OP, whether or not the non-SEAL kids get the extension support they need depends on the individual school and staffers. In addition, even if your child is in SEAL, the programme can be a bit ordinary. I wouldn't bother with the SEAL programme at my school, for example.

#12 caitiri

Posted 06 January 2020 - 04:42 PM

 Beancat, on 06 January 2020 - 03:16 PM, said:

I had a connection to an outer melb school with a SEAL program and let me say there was NO academic extension for those not in the SEAL program.  The teachers did well just to control the very large number of students with behavioural challenges and there was very little time left to focus on the actual curriculum content, let alone supporting the more academically advanced kids who may have just missed out on SEAL.  There was a VERY clear line between the SEAL and standard kids.  I am not saying this is typical but just what I observed at one school

Does that school start with a B

#13 4lilchicks

Posted 06 January 2020 - 05:54 PM

One thing to keep in mind with the SEAL program is that sometimes they will put kids in it later in the year of they think they are suitable so your son might get in that way.

Two of my kids go to a school that offers the SEAL program (DS is in it, DD is not). My DD has definitely been extended and pushed beyond the usual curriculum and she's on the mainstream classes. Even in the SEAL class my DS was extended and put in a special maths class 1 day a week with maths professor to extend him even further.

#14 immismum

Posted 12 January 2020 - 07:23 AM

My daughter was in the same position as your son.  Just missed out on SEAL when the school cut the number of available places from 75 to 25.  She went to the school anyway, and has done well.

Year 7 maths teacher was great, and extended her, but the biggest difference I think was that instead of being expected to work to a higher level, she was given the opportunity to work to a higher level, that it was her decision whether or not to do.

It took DD a while to come around to the fact that it was in her interests to do work she didn’t absolutely have to do.

I am happy to say though that she is entering the SEAL class for year 9 next year, and she is thrilled, as she’s made lots of friends there, even without being in the class.  It’s obviosuly where she belongs both socially and academically.

#15 Nomad2

Posted 15 January 2020 - 08:32 AM

View PostJulie3Girls, on 06 January 2020 - 10:39 AM, said:

The first few weeks of yr7 at our school tend to have a lot of baseline testing.
The school actually tested all the kids on their orientation day using the same outsourced company as the SEAL test.  We advised the school our son would not be attending the orientation day as he had his primary school (NSW) presentation day that day and they were fine with that.  Didn't know about the test until after.  They told me not enough kids missed the test to justify giving it to him when he starts so they'll just see how he goes.  Probably not a big deal I suppose.....

#16 Nomad2

Posted 15 January 2020 - 08:40 AM

View PostBeancat, on 06 January 2020 - 03:16 PM, said:

I had a connection to an outer melb school with a SEAL program and let me say there was NO academic extension for those not in the SEAL program.  The teachers did well just to control the very large number of students with behavioural challenges and there was very little time left to focus on the actual curriculum content, let alone supporting the more academically advanced kids who may have just missed out on SEAL.  There was a VERY clear line between the SEAL and standard kids.  I am not saying this is typical but just what I observed at one school
I attended an outer Melbourne school myself (no SEAL then) and was just happy I survived it. Academically I breezed trough until my work was benchmarked against the rest of Victoria.  Pretty average then. I do get the sense the school that my son would be going to has a better culture than the one I attended though.

#17 Nomad2

Posted 15 January 2020 - 08:56 AM

View Postimmismum, on 12 January 2020 - 07:23 AM, said:

My daughter was in the same position as your son.  Just missed out on SEAL when the school cut the number of available places from 75 to 25.  She went to the school anyway, and has done well.

Year 7 maths teacher was great, and extended her, but the biggest difference I think was that instead of being expected to work to a higher level, she was given the opportunity to work to a higher level, that it was her decision whether or not to do.

It took DD a while to come around to the fact that it was in her interests to do work she didn’t absolutely have to do.

I am happy to say though that she is entering the SEAL class for year 9 next year, and she is thrilled, as she’s made lots of friends there, even without being in the class.  It’s obviosuly where she belongs both socially and academically.

Thanks.  Sounds like your daughter was a bit unlucky to begin with when they shrunk the SEAL program but has probably worked out better for her now.  No such shrinking SEAL program in my son's case.  He simply didn't qualify though how far off he was I don't know.

The concern I have for my son is he tends to have low self esteem and gets anxious.  He has improved in this regard (was at it's worst in year 3), but we found it was best handled when he was challenged and achieved something rather than avoidance.  The challenge for him might be that he needs to prove himself by putting in extra effort like your daughter did.  He is lazy though and I think he might be better off with enforced extra work rather than optional....

#18 Julie3Girls

Posted 15 January 2020 - 02:49 PM

View PostNomad2, on 15 January 2020 - 08:56 AM, said:

The challenge for him might be that he needs to prove himself by putting in extra effort like your daughter did.  He is lazy though and I think he might be better off with enforced extra work rather than optional....
I don’t how other extension programs work, but from my experience with two of my girls going through one, is that self motivation, willingness to put in the effort, is a big part of the class.  
A lot of the work they do is open ended research. The amount of effort they put is up to them - obviously is reflected in the marks of course. A lot of the kids in the class are ones who have cruised through primary school, and it can be a hard habit to break. And it is an issue they need to work on, because while the teachers are fantastic with offering help and assistance when asked, they also won’t chase the kids - they are meant to step and take responsibility for their own work, especially in the extension class.

In fact, it was my daughter who didn’t sit the test for the extension class and was in the mainstream in year 7, who got the most push from teachers. She stood out in the class because she finished the work so much quicker, that they noticed she needed the extension and the extra push.

Don’t stress over the class. Encourage him to push himself, and the teachers will notice.




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