From the Junior and Middle Schools

Engaging with Year 8 at SCOTS PGC

Ms Amy Woodgate | Head of Junior and Middle Schools

SCOTS Engage is a program unique to SCOTS PGC.  Now in its second year of implementation, SCOTS Engage is an opportunity for our Year 8 students to connect with who they are as individuals, as a group and as members of our community.  It is a program that is designed to complement our existing Pastoral Care and Wellbeing sessions run by Year 8 Tutor Teachers.

We know that the years that span from childhood to adolescence are a time of change for our young people.  This includes physical, cognitive, social, emotional, and moral change.  There are changes to the brain and cognitive development that coincide with significant physical and hormonal changes.  It is a time that requires us to be responsive to the full range of needs, interests, and capabilities of our Middle School students.

During these years, young adolescents often have a desire to be more independent, yet at the same time seek meaningful interactions with their peers and with significant adults.  They crave freedom and support simultaneously, whilst also navigating social, emotional, and physiological changes.  It can be a time of ‘shifting sands’ – changes in relationships, changes in expectations and a change in understanding who they are and their place in the world.

The SCOTS Engage program has been developed with these understandings in mind.  Throughout the year, we explore a range of topics and themes, ranging from ‘BIG’ concepts like trust and bravery to more practical skills such as how to study for an exam or what subjects to select as an elective for Years 9 and 10.

The overview for SCOTS Engage is:

Term 1: ‘Knowing Yourself and Others’ – character strengths and leadership qualities

Term 2: ‘Learning to Learn’ – understanding how we learn, organising ourselves, study skills and strategies

Term 3: ‘Our Community’ – serving others and developing life skills

Term 4: ‘The Next Step’ – preparing for the journey to Senior School

In recent SCOTS Engage lessons, the Year 8 group has been exploring the concepts of trust and BRAVING, as described by professor and social researcher, Brené Brown.  The acronym BRAVING is a checklist of the seven elements of trust identified by Brené Brown and is a way of exploring the vulnerability and courage it takes to trust ourselves and trust others.

BRAVING is described in this video by Brené Brown and stands for:

BOUNDARIES: Setting boundaries is making clear what’s okay and what’s not okay, and why.

RELIABILITY: You do what you say you’ll do.

ACCOUNTABILITY: You own your mistakes, apologise, and make amends.

VAULT: You don’t share information or experiences that are not yours to share.

INTEGRITY: Choosing courage over comfort; choosing what’s right over what’s fun, fast, or easy; and practising your values, not just professing them.

NON JUDGMENT: I can ask for what I need, and you can ask for what you need. We can talk about how we feel without judgment.

GENEROSITY: Extending the most generous interpretation to the intentions, words, and actions of others.

As a group, we explored the concept of trust and how it is built slowly over time through small moments or actions, with our behaviours and words being able to build up or break down trust.  We also recognised that to trust someone or even to trust ourselves we have to be brave, we have to take a risk and we have to accept that those ‘micro-moments’ we have with others may be seemingly insignificant but are incredibly powerful in our relationships.

The conversations we have had about these ‘BIG’ concepts have been mature and thought-provoking.  The students have shared their ideas, had the courage to speak up in front of their peers and have taken time to reflect on themselves and their relationships with others.

There is no doubt that these early years of adolescence can be challenging for both the young people and the significant adults in their lives, but it is also important to remember how wonderfully empathetic, hilarious, surprising and insightful teenagers can be.

2022 Middle School Leaders

After delaying the process due to the number of students absent throughout Term 1 in Year 8, we have now been able to appoint our Middle School Leaders for 2022.  In a special Middle School Assembly this week, our 2022 leaders have been presented with their badges.

The Middle School Leaders for 2022 are:

  1. Rory Farrell
  2. Bayden Tink-Fenn
  3. Amira Duffy
  4. Emilie Miller
  5. Elliza Moore-Kirkland
  6. Emma Corke
  7. Hugh Holden
  8. Belle Meek
  9. Sarah Morris
  10. Phoebe Bryant
  11. Sophie Flick
  12. Gabrielle Newing

To be selected as a Middle School leader, the students submitted an online application and then attended an interview with Mrs Stephenson and me to discuss their application further.

It was lovely to spend time speaking to all of the students who applied and all were impressive in their ability to share their thoughts and ideas and also their understanding of themselves in terms of their character strengths and leadership qualities.

The selected group of leaders possess diverse talents, leadership qualities and strengths.  They are both day and boarding students who embody our College values in the classroom, in co-curricular pursuits and in the wider community.  This term, they are working closely with Mrs Stephenson in a leadership development program as a way of enhancing their ability to connect with their peers, be ambassadors for the College and grow individually.

Also as a part of the Assembly this week, a number of Middle School Awards were presented to students across Years 6 to 8.  These awards were nominated by staff for a student’s achievements inside or outside of the classroom, the way they conduct themselves each day and the character strengths and personal qualities they possess.  It was lovely to see such a wide range of students being presented with an Award for their individual progress and achievement.

Congratulations to the Middle School leaders and all those students who received an Award.