When people ask Kai what school he goes to he responds that he goes to a senior college. This is usually received by surprised faces, as he just turned 11 and Senior college starts in grade 10, so for 16 years olds.
Is he an extremely bright kid (of course he is, he is our son…duh…) that skipped five years? What is the story?
We moved from the Netherlands to Australia two years ago, Kai and Luka went to Year 3 and 2 of the local public primary school. Then I went on a school tour of this senior college with a friend and they also have a middle Year sports campus with a special tennis program for Years 5 to 9.
I happen to have a son that loves to do sports – he always has. He has been actively playing different sports and is happiest when he is active every day. This sounded like an amazing opportunity for Kai.
Thus, after one year in a public primary school we considered a change in Primary schools, Kai had an interview with the principal, went on the tennis courts to show his tennis capabilities, went to a trial week, got accepted and changed schools. In term 3 he started in the combined year 5/6 class.
We are now a year further and where is he now?
Unfortunately the school decided to discontinue the primary school program, Years 5 and 6, but have a transition year for the last Year 6 students, so Kai could stay.
Two of the children from his Year level decided to go back to their old Primary school and two new ones joined the program. For the transition year they combined the Year 6 with the Year 7’s, which is still only a class with a total of 14 children. What a difference to his old class in the Netherlands that has 34!
Being a Year 6-7 class also meant having to buy books for every subject and bringing them to school every day.
His school is a regular public primary school, but with a focus on tennis. This is his schedule this year:
|10:50:00||on court||on court||on court||science||on court|
|11:20:00||on court||on court||on court||science||on court|
|11:50:00||English||maths||match play||on court||on court|
|12:20:00||English||maths||match play||on court||fitness|
|01:30:00||integr. st. *||integr. st. *||science||match play|
|02:00:00||integr. st. *||integr. st. *||science||match play||integr. st. *|
|02:30:00||art||art||maths||English||integr. st. *|
|03:00:00||art||art||maths||English||integr. st. *|
* integr. st. = integrated studies, it brings together various curriculum areas using a theme or topic.
They follow the regular Victorian school curriculum, only music, inter school sport and a second language are taken out, surprisingly this makes up for the 10 hours of tennis and fitness that they have. In the academics they usually perform well above average compared to other schools and it is all approved by the government, so I guess it can be done.
Do we regret the change of schools?
Not for a second. Kai is in his element, being challenged in schoolwork and on the tennis court. He likes going to school and prefers to go as early as possible, so he can play table tennis before school starts.
His tennis is really developing. He does have to work hard for it, it does not come easily and there is still lots of room for improvement. When he started the tennis school he had only been playing tennis for six months, so he got wiped off the court initially. However two weeks ago while we were driving home after school he told me that he beat the strongest tennis player that day. I took that with a grain of salt initially, but the tennis coaches confirmed it the next day and could not stop talking about it. I guess that was a good lesson for both of them. In tennis anything is possible.
Only downfall I can think of is that he is growing up very quickly. With his just turned 11, he is by far the youngest kid in the school, the others in class are or turn 13 this year. But this does not seem to bother him much.
Two downfalls. Our grocery budget has doubled, because he eats like a giant!
All in all it is a great opportunity for him, which I do not think he would have experienced had we not made this move.
*) A brugsmurf is a term that is used in the Netherlands for the first year students of secondary school.