Continuous pursuit of Soaring Higher in the Middle School

The Middle School staff and I continue to strive for the provision of the best experience a young adolescent can have in optimising their positive development through these most formative years – both for themselves and for their contributions in building future community. To do this requires heart and a view of the holiness in all students…the team display this each and every day and for this I am forever grateful. This work is, of course in conjunction with the each student’s junior schooling experiences, other life experience and leads into their Senior Schooling and beyond.

As you’d hear me often say on tours or information sessions at the school, Middle School is such a critical part of the whole school learning journey (and indeed the stage I am most passionate about!) – it is our research-informed, deliberate approach to cater for the unique needs of young adolescents. These unique needs are concerned with this being a time of rapid change across many domains; a time when we form much of our dispositions we take into adulthood. Hence, we strive to create a learning environment that optimises this development!

We are continually striving to support our students to be engaged and challenged with their learning; to want to learn and live a mindset for lifelong learning; to develop self-awareness and individual passions; to foster a sense of agency – that they can make things happen in their lives – then being optimistic about the future; and to learn to live beyond themselves (to embrace service, inclusion and acting with integrity).

Plainly, it is our culture, student wellbeing and the curriculum and teaching that are at the forefront of our relentless improvement agenda. This is right and proper and should go without saying.

Moreover, aligned with the broader whole-school goals, in the Middle School we are focusing on specific improvements leading to:

  • better results (and all that that encompasses and means for each student);
  • showcasing learning and achievement; and,
  • further strengthening our community connections.

The latter two feed into the former and are interrelated. For when students are connected to their learning, when their families are connected to the child’s learning, when students are engaged with a task that will be displayed, scrutinised and be an example for others, greater learning outcomes can be achieved.

We flourish in Community is one of our school value statements. Indeed, it’s the first on the list displayed on our home page! To complement this, in Middle School we have an unofficial core value of living beyond yourself – of thinking and acting with regard to what is also best for others. Our school has a proud history of embracing this value, over many student-generations, across the sub-schools and in a wide range of ways. In the Middle School this year we are planning to provide more occasions for parents to be here, to meet and support each other as they parent their young adolescents and to share ideas and feedback with the school and staff. For example, we observe that the new students have begun Middle School so very well, but what do you think, what are your hopes?

We will operate an Expo later in the year which will provide a further opportunity for student learning and achievement to be showcased – here students will be proud to display aspects of their learning, further to that shared and reported on in other forums. This occasion will also allow for additional community connection. Our learning spaces and student work will be on display and you are welcome.

Mother’s Day afternoon teas, Vietnam Journey fundraising events, Year 8 Ctrl Alt Design project sharing, Year 9 Rite Journey ceremonies, House service foci and so on; these are all moments on our showcasing and community involvement agenda, and indeed part of our continuous improvement agenda, where we strive to soar higher. We do flourish in community, locally and globally, and I am grateful that students at St John’s, along with all of us associated with the school feel compelled to be immersed in, and contribute to this culture. It is a point of difference for us and one that I trust you are proud of and toward which you will continue to make your contribution.

Ben Clark
Head of Middle School