Preparing for Middle School in 2018 Tue, May 30, 2017

Families with current Year 5 and 6 students were recently invited to attend Parent Information Evenings focusing on how St Mark’s intends to cater for the transition of Year 6 and 7 to Middle School in 2018.

Why include Years 6, 7 and 8 in Middle School?

The inclusion of a Years 6 to 8 in Middle School is not a new idea. Many schools on the East Coast are already using a Year 5-8 or 6-8 structure for the advantage of their students, including some of Australia’ s best-known schools such as Melbourne Girls Grammar School and Haileybury. In Western Australia, Wesley College, Living Waters Lutheran College and Scotch College have already implemented this model.  Schools in Canada, the United States and New Zealand are also structured in this way.

The decision to apply this model to St Mark’s was not taken lightly. Recent studies into human development have shown that children are reaching puberty earlier, and the World Health Organization (WHO) now defines adolescents as those people between 10 and 19 years of age.

Adolescence is a period of life with specific health and developmental needs. It is also a time for young people to develop knowledge and skills, learn to manage emotions and relationships, and acquire attributes and abilities that will be important for enjoying the adolescent years as well as for assuming adult responsibilities in the years ahead.

An additional factor is the new Australian Curriculum, which has increased focus on the key learning areas of science and mathematics. Access to specialised teaching in this areas will support student learning, as well as supporting the School’s strategic focus on academic excellence.

Where is the Middle School Precinct?

 

The Middle School precinct incorporates the Floreat and Cottesloe buildings, including the green space around those areas. 

As active play is still very much a feature in the lives of our young adolescents, new play areas will be developed in and around the Floreat and Cottesloe buildings.  The Floreat play area will feature equipment developmentally appropriate for Year 6 students, encouraging play, and risk taking in a safe environment, as well as building core/upper body strength.  The play zone at Cottlesloe will have shade sails, cool seating and a range of  outdoor games for small groups, designed to encourage conversation and build friendship groups.

Middle School students will also have access to the Oval and Pavilion/Hall for ball games during lunch and recess.

Students in Middle School will also have access to specialist areas in Dunsborough (Physical Education and Science) as well as in Busselton (Design & Technology, Visual Arts and Media Arts).  In addition, all students will have access to the shared facilities in the Tony Stopher Library & Information Centre, the Len King Sports Pavilion and the Ken Fairfield Hall. The demountables in the quadrangle will be removed in the December/January holidays and the area will return as a green space for all to enjoy.

Students in Years 9 to 12 will be based in the new Alan Cadby Senior Academic Centre.

What will Middle School learning look like?

Year 6 Class structure

  • Year 6 is different, on purpose, because the students are different and have different needs, just like Year 7 is different from Year 8 and so on.
  • Year 6 students will be placed in one of six ‘Homerooms’ based in the Floreat Building.
  • Each Homeroom will have a maximum of 29 students and one Homeroom teacher.
  • Students will spend 70% of their time in Floreat.
  • The homeroom teacher will be the main provider of pastoral care for their class. This teacher will see students for up to 2.5 hours per day.
  • For other classes, such as Phys Ed or Christian Ed, specialist teachers will be accessed.

Year 7 and 8 Class structure

  • From Year 7, students are allocated into Pastoral Care Groups (PCG) based on their House group. There are two PCG in each House at each year level (i.e. eight PCGs in total, each with approximately 22 students).
  • Where possible, the PCG teacher (or Pastoral Group Tutor) will stay with the same group for the remainder of their time at St Mark’s.
  • After PCG time in the morning, students head out for timetabled classes, with the majority of lessons taking place in the Cottesloe area.  A number of timetabled classes will include students from across all four House groups.

Christian Education

  • Christian living and Chaplaincy are integral to the life of St Mark’s. 
  • As a Christian school in the Anglican tradition, all students attend Chapel once a week.  For special occasions, they may have services in the Len King Sports Pavilion (Easter, St Mark’s Day and Speech Night).
  • All students participate in Christian Studies once a week. During the program, class discussion is valued and an investigative and enquiring mind is required.
  • Connect Bible Study groups are led by our Chaplaincy intern with the support of the School Chaplaincy team. Participation is voluntary.

Core Learning Areas

  • Middle School timetables are structured with 26 periods per week (5 or 6 periods per day).
  • We are guided by School Curriculum and Standards Authority and the Australian Curriculum in how we allocate time to learning areas and the content covered.
  • For Year 6 students the MESH (Maths, English, Science & Humanities) subjects form the basis of the student’s timetable with a clear focus on literacy and numeracy.
  • Years 7 and 8 timetables are also focused around MESH subjects.
  • In addition, all Middle School students will have the opportunity to try a range of other ‘elective’ courses through Semester long programs, such as Café Raw, project based learning, Music, Drama, Media, Visual Art, STEM and Sustainability.
  • Students will also have yearlong ‘elective’ courses in French, IT/Coding, Health and Phys Ed.

Pastoral Care/Student Wellbeing

  • The Middle School aims to foster an environment that honours the development of the ‘whole child’
  • The social and emotional development of the students is held at least equal to, but oftentimes above, the cognitive development of the children.
  • In 2017, St Mark’s introduced the RULER Approach to student wellbeing and social-emotional learning. This approach will be rolled out across the School from Kindergarten to Year 12. More information is available on the School’s website.
  • Each Year level will have their own Head of Year. The Head of Year will have a strong focus on pastoral care.
  • St Mark’s has a full time School Psychologist and School Nurse as part of the pastoral care team.

Learning Enrichment/Inclusive Education

  • St Mark’s is committed to providing safe, supportive, inclusive and disciplined learning environments that provide educational opportunities for all students.
  • This means that students are provided with learning support and/or academic extension on an ‘as needed’ basis.
  • Students in the extension classes will have a similar timetable, sharing the majority of classes with their peers, while also undertaking tasks and activities designed to challenge and inspire.
  • If you have specific questions related to your child’s needs, you will have opportunities to discuss this with your child’s PCG Tutor or Head of Year.

Co- and Extra-Curricular Activities

  • St Mark's believes that camps and tours form an integral and essential part of the curriculum and provide experiences central to students' academic and personal development. There are compulsory camps as well as a range of exciting optional international tours.
  • On Friday afternoons, the House Activities and Clubs program offers students the chance to 'have a go' at a wide variety of activities, such as Debating, Public Speaking, Dance, Short Film, Photography, Community Gardening, Chess, Robotics, Karate, Drama, Art/Craft, Music Ensembles and more.
  • The Arts provide a creative outlet for students in music (including instrumental music lessons, choirs, ensembles) and drama (including back stage assistance, tech crew, front of house and on stage).
  • Students in Year 6 will participate winter and summer sport through the Northern Independent Primary Schools Sports Association (NIPSSA). St Mark’s will field two teams at these events.
  • Year 6 students may also participate arts and cultural events through the Independent Primary School Heads of Australia (IPSHA).
  • Students in Years 7 and 8 join Senior School students compete in Associated and Catholic Colleges (ACC) Carnivals, and in the CAS winter and summer sports program as well as a range of other interschool sporting opportunities.