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Insights on the Middle Years Program

Principal, Dr Toni E. Meath

One of the reasons the period known as the Middle Years is so important is that it marks the period from childhood to early adulthood and much happens to the developing child physically, socially, emotionally, and psychologically during this time. At Melbourne Girls Grammar we place much attention to the transition points of entry into Years 5 and 7, in order to facilitate a smoothness and comfort for both students and their families.

We are proud of the seamless journey from Morris Hall through to the Middle Years where arriving at ‘high school’ isn’t a shocking sharp arrival but a natural progression of all the layered values and lessons that have been dedicated to ensuring our Grammarians are prepared for anything.

Dr Toni E. Meath

Our carefully curated transition programs focus on three distinct areas including:

  1. Ensuring the girls are comfortable in their new physical environments
  2. Making sure that they are familiar with programs and processes
  3. Most importantly, ensuring that they are connected with their peers and known by our staff. 

A key element to a successful transition is ensuring our students feel comfortable at the School and develop a sense of belonging that helps them thrive with their confidence and independence. This is just the beginning of the Middle Years story though – through the four years they gain so many skills that set them up successfully for the Senior Years and beyond, and these aren’t necessarily gained at the end of Primary School. The Wildfell experience is unique to Melbourne Girls Grammar in that it provides students in Year 5 and Year 6 an opportunity to commence personalised learning and choosing electives. As Wildfell is situated on our Merton Hall Campus, their teachers are experts in their subject area and so our Grammarians are introduced early to the disciplines of the faculties usually studied only at high school. Academic and researcher, Barber, puts forward that there are often low expectations of what students can achieve in the first years of secondary school and our Middle Years model sets high expectations throughout the developmental continuum of learning so that our students are less likely to experience a ‘performance dip’. (Barber, 1999).  

Our Middle Years Program builds upon an inquiry learning model through techniques such as experiential learning with Pathways Planning Staff scaffolding both support and stretch. Our Middle Years Grammarians have opportunities for horizontal and vertical friendships through our vibrant House System. We are proud of the seamless journey from Morris Hall through to the Middle Years where arriving at ‘high school’ isn’t a shocking sharp arrival but a natural progression of all the layered values and lessons that have been dedicated to ensuring our Grammarians are prepared for anything. 

It is important to us that for each phase of the middle years of education has curriculum continuityand that our Grammarians hold a deep sense of place and autonomy. 

At Melbourne Girls Grammar we know that transition planning is most likely to be successful when it supports students with developing new friendships and improving self-esteem and confidence, and helping them to settle well into the new school life, so there are no concerns for parents.  Signs that transition has been positive for students include our Grammarians showing an increasing interest in school and schoolwork and looking forward to new routines and school organisation. (Holdsworth, 2010)  

At Melbourne Girls Grammar we put much energy and focus in ensuring that periods of change are supported. 

References: 

Barber, M. (1999) Taking the Tide at the Flood: Transforming Education in the Middle Years, Middle Years of Schooling Conference, Melbourne, 28th March 1999 

Holdsworth, R. (2010) Transition and Engagement, Research Document 6, Student Wellbeing Unit, Catholic Education Office Melbourne 

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