The importance of the middle school years

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The importance of the middle school years

Friday the 24th of May, 2019

​Parents often wonder about the middle years of education when their young sons and daughters emerge from childhood. They have learned to read and write and their noticeable growth spurts signal that they are about ready to embark on a new phase of life.

It is a particularly important phase of education that must be especially designed to foster an emerging self-identity, build confidence and instil a set of values such as empathy, care and optimism so important for a positive attitude to life’s challenges. 

Selecting a school that reduces the stress of multiple transitions and offers these valuable experiences as part of curriculum design is the aim of the Junior High School at Diocesan School for Girls.   Spanning years 7 – 10, the Junior High School provides an experience that embeds an extensive pastoral programme about building real friendships and relationships.  It links to our leadership programme that develops in each girl the concept of self-awareness (aligned with her culture and family) and how she can discover her own strength of character to make a difference to those around her, therefore understanding that great leadership does not reside in a role, but comes from within.  

Our service programme gives girls real life challenges to stand in the shoes of others and to hear their needs from their perspective.  From these opportunities, students develop a sense of purpose in that help comes in many ways and is more about actions and taking initiative.   It is important to have knowledge as well, so our Junior High School students receive a comprehensive curriculum programme with specialist teachers in each subject area.  The ability to deliver a concept based curriculum with teachers who are experts in each subject enables girls to participate fully and confidently in subjects typically dominated by boys.  

Girls learn best with other girls and without the gender stereotypes that typically come into play during the peer pressure of pre and teenage years.  In our Junior High School there is freedom and space without background disruption with girls becoming confident in their appearance, proud of their achievements, and able to participate in all performances within a safe environment.  Contrary to popular belief, they are less aware of and unbridled by the influences of stereotypes and it shows in their passion for learning, celebration of each other, and ability to take on challenges with determination and resilience, as demonstrated by older girls in the school.  

The Junior High School years prepare our young women in an environment where the senior girls are role models and work alongside them as part of their Harry Potter type ‘house’.  Each vertical house creates another family for each girl with her tutor teacher and dean helping her to merge from a girl in year 7 to a self-assured young woman in year 10.  Through attending assemblies, our ethics programme and chapel, each girl learns more about herself, what she believes in and what she will fight for.  Her values and culture will help her become the adult who understands how she can contribute to the lives of others so that she can in turn give back. 

We believe that the Junior High School years are a vital part of the educational journey - the stage when each girl learns to understand the world around her and undertake that change from child to adult.  From dependent child to independence, at Diocesan School for Girls her education will be underpinned by an experience that will support her to become proud of who she is and what she has achieved. 

- Heather McRae, Principal.