As an extraordinarily full Term 1 draws to a close, I reflect on what has been, and the trajectory the students in the Middle School are on. Our students have made an excellent beginning to their current year of the Middle School journey. Whilst our already strong culture has been further invigorated by our renewed leadership team, staffing and cohesive continuous improvement agenda, indeed our new students have also contributed greatly.

It now promises to be a long and appropriately challenging year – challenging in terms of that which is required for learning! The students have been engaged in purposeful learning and have taken up the challenge of living beyond themselves – and in so doing they have been helping to build our school community and culture. The students are regularly provided opportunities to enrich their development and reflect on their learning processes and goals. The end of term assessment tasks, work samples and upcoming parent interviews are further, formal stimuli to reflect on effective practices as well as future areas for development. Accompanying these opportunities are ever-present encouragement and support in areas beyond academic learning, including thinking creatively and critically, sporting competition, artistic expression, and social and personal development.

Experiences increase in their scope and complexity as students grow through their Middle School journey. Forming or strengthening a friendship, developing intrapersonal skills, and viewing a setback as a chance to build resilience are all life skill opportunities. The process of weighing up the risks versus the potential benefit (to others and themselves) is an element staff also explore with the students. Critically, choosing to ask questions of their teacher to clarify a point of understanding, or to request deepening and extension of a learning task to provide appropriate challenge, is an ongoing opportunity for richer learning.

Taking the lead and developing initiative, for example running a student interest club, even when not an official leader, along with helping a peer to learn, are empowering times for self-development. Participation in the wider school life, taking on a role within a co-curricular program including that of a coach or referee, auditioning for our various choirs, ensembles and plays, learning a musical instrument or attending voluntary Study Support sessions are valuable opportunities afforded to the students in the Middle School.

That all being said, what do you think? What is your child when they come home? In these early teen years when disengagement in learning can peak, partnership with home is so important. As we encouraged at our information night at the beginning of the year, parents are warmly welcomed to provide feedback, communicate and ask questions with the staff at any time. As such, further to information shared through Canvas and directly from teachers and Heads of House, I have conducted a coffee and chat morning for parents of children new to the Middle School to simply meet each other and talk through all relevant questions, share aspirations and build connections with each other and the school. Importantly, all parents are encouraged to communicate at any time regarding their child’s learning journey to the relevant staff members or myself directly.

Middle School is such an important stage of development. It’s a time of rapid change and the forming of dispositions we take into later years; so…we strive to create a learning environment that optimises this development! I’d like to thank you for continuing to encourage your child to reflect, learn from mistakes, participate and grow by making the most of the opportunities that Middle School presents.

Ben Clark

Head of Middle School