Gabriel’s Story: From Primary to Secondary School

“The transition from primary to secondary schooling was always going to be a big step for everyone, not just children like me with a hearing loss. I had already been in to see the staff while I had been in primary schooling to talk about how the school worked and how I could best start the year off and build it from there.
At the end of Grade 6, I had mixed emotions. I was sad to leave my school that I had been at for 7 years, while I was optimistic about moving to Secondary School with the lockers, the set timetables, the numerous amounts of teachers whose names you had to remember. It was all thrilling.

While Melbourne was suffering in 44 degree heat, over the summer holidays, I was down at Wilson’s Promontory on a family holiday. During the week I kept thinking about my old school and my new school. Even though there had been graduation and all of those celebrations it still felt like I was just going to go back to my old school. I’m told by my friends that this was exactly what they were feeling over their summer. Another thing to mention now, which was another big step for me, was that I was transitioning from a school with a hearing unit to a school that didn’t have a hearing unit and had never had a profoundly deaf student enrolled before.

When I got back to Melbourne, I was asked to go to my new school to do some final checks on my equipment (Soundfield, RF etc.). While I was there, I gave my dazed teachers reassurance that everything that they were doing was exactly right, and they gave me reassurance that they were committed to give me the best (and the same as everyone else) learning opportunities they could.

After two more weeks, D-Day had arrived. The custom for my new school is that the Year 7’s have an extra day at the start of the year before everyone else. I remember that the Head of Year 7 had made it very clear in her letter to the parents that students must have their blazers on at all times in the first day. Unfortunately, the forecast was for 40 degrees and it had been the hottest night of the year the night before so everyone was feeling sticky. Fortunately the day was going to finish at 11AM, and so we proceeded without any heat problems (with the possible exception of the sweat patches on some of the male teachers’ shirts). As I walked in to my form room, my form teacher, whom I had not met yet, came up to me and introduced herself and asked me a couple of questions about the RF. One thing I noticed about my class throughout the first few weeks, they just accepted my hearing impairment and almost immediately I made new friends which boosted my confidence, and so the rest of the day went ship shape.

The next day, which was my first full day, it was photo day and our first whole school assembly. Luckily the temperature had dropped dramatically so we did not have any blazer problems. When we went into the hall for assembly I was asked if I wanted the RF on. Having sat in assemblies previously I knew exactly what would happen and also the acoustics of the hall wouldn’t help the RF, so I declined. The point of that last little bit is to demonstrate how willing some people are to help people who have disadvantages.

The first week went as smooth as you could ask for. On the Friday, we had swimming trials in the afternoon and the teachers and I agreed that I wouldn’t wear my waterproof covers and I was introduced to one of the swimming teachers (of whom is also hearing impaired) who agreed with me that when the whistle blew the marshaller would wave his hand so I knew the whistle had blown. As the days went by, and the weeks started flying I started making heaps of new friends and as always my teachers are doing a fantastic job at the FM and I really do appreciated the fact that they want to learn as much as they can about my hearing impairment to find ways to assist me.

To conclude, I would like to say to any parent of a hearing impaired child that making the transition from primary to secondary schooling isn’t that difficult and that I have well and truly settled into my new school and at the time of writing preparing for the end of the semester with tests, music concerts, sporting competitions etc.”

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