The Middle School seeks to respond to students’ needs to grow and change, to become independent and to develop into active and reflective participants in society. We aim to provide a welcoming, safe, supportive environment in which students are known and cared for whilst being encouraged to contribute and develop their diverse gifts and talents. Pastoral care is a vital component of student experience, shaping student attitudes, willingness and capacity to cope with their academic studies. In the Middle School, through a combination of structured activities and personal relationships, students are cared for by their Head of Year (HOY) with the support of their Pastoral Care group teacher and their Character and Leadership Development (CLD) teacher.
The Head of Year is responsible for the overall care of the students in their year group, working collaboratively with both parents and staff to ensure that the pastoral and developmental needs of the students are met. They are a key person for parents to speak with in relation to matters of either an academic or pastoral nature. The Head of Year support students in meeting the School’s expectations and provide support for individual girls as needed.
Pastoral Care (PC) Groups are House based and consist of a small number of students from each year level, who meet three times a week with their PC teacher. This allows for individual and small group relationships to develop between staff and students thus providing opportunities to promote positive interactions and build a learning community.
Chaplain and School Counsellor
The School offers a Religious Education program which plays an important role in the pastoral care of the Middle School community. The Chaplain provides spiritual leadership for the School as well as organising Chapel services.
The School Counsellor, who is available to all students and parents, takes a pro-active approach to student health and personal development, helping to design programs in these areas as well as working with girls on an individual basis.
Character and Leadership Development
The Character and Leadership Development (CLD) program aims to enhance the learning process and promote academic achievement. The program begins with the individual and moves to the community. In Year 7, the focus is on responsibility and independence; in Year 8, on self-awareness and; in Year 9, on developing resilience and a sense of community. Values, ethics and personal development are embedded in the Character and Leadership Development program. Lessons help to address the changing needs of students by discussing relevant issues and promoting the acquisition of skills and values that help the students to develop and deepen their understanding of these concepts, and of themselves and others.
Students in Years 7 to 9 participate in learning skills as part of the CLD program. The purpose of this program is to assist students’ understanding of how they learn, what type of learners they are and develop strategies for learning that are most effective for them. The program encourages students to become reflective learners by understanding and using the language of learning.
Once students move from Junior School to Middle School, they will generally find that they have a greater number of subjects and hence teachers and this can be more demanding; the work has increased in difficulty; and students are expected to be responsible for their learning and be more independent. Success in Middle School requires high motivation and effort, strong study skills, effective time management, and good test-taking strategies.
The objectives of the learning skills program are to:
- Equip students with the skills, knowledge and attitudes required for academic success
- Provide students with the opportunity to experience and develop a range of different strategies
- Increase student motivation and overall satisfaction
- Contribute to students’ academic success and lifelong learning goals
- Facilitate the development of confidence in students’ ability to succeed
- Enable students to be more responsible for their own learning
- Enable students to make connections across curriculum areas
The Middle School plays a major role in fostering the attitudes, skills, and knowledge students require so that they may develop into responsible adults. It is essential that we build learning environments that promote positive relationships among all members of the school community and give the girls activities and responsibilities that enhance personal accountability, compassion, and respect for others.
Holding and communicating high expectations for student learning and behaviour is at the heart of our Middle School philosophy. The Middle School promotes a problem solving approach to behaviour management using restorative practices rather than a punitive system. This positive approach, seeks to build responsibility and bring about change in the behaviour and thinking of the students. Two key aspects to developing positive relationships and teaching responsible behaviours in the Middle School include proactive measures that increase motivation and cultivate student achievement, and taking action when misbehaviour occurs, to work towards resolution of the problem.
In order to recognise and promote positive behaviour, students in the Middle School can be nominated for Spirit Awards. By encouraging and acknowledging academic achievement, positive work habits, leadership skills, involvement in the School and general community and working on areas that are of interest, we hope to enable students to connect, contribute, and to feel capable. This positive approach of praise, recognition and encouragement helps to foster and build a climate for learning and teaching.
Staff will award Spirit Awards to students who display commendable behaviour during school activities such as class lessons, sport, excursions or other associated activities. Students work towards certificates that are presented at Middle School Assembly. These awards are linked to the learning dimensions of – Learning, Character and Community.
Transition and Orientation
Students entering the Middle School come from a wide feeder area with a diverse range of experiences. They may have been in the Junior School, another local primary school, interstate, overseas, or have attended distance education. St Hilda’s School seeks to offer these students a successful introduction to their Middle School experience by organising a range of activities that helps them make connections. Such activities stimulate positive feelings among students and lay a constructive foundation for the year to come.
Transition activities include:
- Year 6 meet with the Head of Middle School and the Head of Year 7 to help establish personal links.
- Year 6 classes experience a day in the Middle School. They participate in sample lessons, visit different classrooms, discover relevant information and gain a better insight into how the Middle School operates.
- Year 6 students take part in activities organised by the Year 9 House Leaders.
A tremendous amount of energy goes into the beginning of the school year. We want to give new students the best possible foundation to help them make their entry to Middle School a happy, successful, and productive experience. The Orientation program in the first week is the students’ first opportunity to get to know staff and other students, and to begin to make the connections that are crucial to their success in Middle School. It helps to build community, to prepare students for the year ahead, and to celebrate the fact that we are here together, ready to begin the important work of teaching and learning. A variety of activities are incorporated into the program that focus on helping students to get to know one another, developing trust and a sense of class identity.