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Kaikorai Valley College has been split in two. In a bid to attract more year 7 and 8 pupils to the college, the school had been changed to a junior college (year 7 and 8 pupils) and a senior college (year 9-13) this year, deputy principal John Downes said.
He said the ''rebranding'' concept had been promoted because the school had received feedback from the parents of prospective pupils, who were concerned their intermediate-aged children would get lost in what was perceived as a larger secondary school with older pupils.
''And to a certain extent, there is still a perception out there that Kaikorai Valley College is still essentially a large secondary school with year 7 and 8 classes added on.''
Mr Downes believed the college offered all the advantages of an intermediate, with year 7 and 8 home-room classes, as well as the added advantages of ready access to specialist facilities and specialist teachers in a number of areas.
''By promoting the junior college concept, we are saying to prospective students (and their parents) that they will have the best of both worlds, but with an emphasis on being with their 11- and 12-year-old peers, and not being treated as secondary students.''
The junior college was being promoted as ''a stepping stone to secondary education''.
At one stage, the college investigated reopening nearby Kenmure Intermediate, which was closed in 1996, and using it as a facility to accommodate the junior college's 120 year 7 and 8 pupils, Mr Downes said.
However, it was deemed too expensive and too far away from the main buildings.
It was decided to keep the junior college ''on site'' and rebrand it by renaming the home-room block as Kaikorai Valley College Junior College, appointing Damian Burden as the new head of junior college, introducing a junior college council, establishing a separate badge system for junior college pupils, revamping the junior college curriculum, and holding junior college assemblies, among other initiatives.
The school was also working towards creating a dedicated jacket for junior college pupils, he said.
''What this is essentially saying is that we recognise that some students are destined to leave for other schools at the end of year 8, especially single-sex schools, for family and personal preference reasons.
''But this shouldn't be a barrier for them attending our junior college in years 7 and 8.''
Mr Downes said while the school was delighted when pupils stayed on through to years 9-13, it was certainly not a requirement or expectation, and the school did not put pressure on pupils to do so.
''We have had excellent buy-in and feedback from our current year 7 and 8 students who enjoy having their own identity within the wider Kaikorai Valley College and are feeling quite special.''