“Students must be nurtured, as they’re still young, yet challenged academically to avoid losing interest. Providing the right support is key."
Year 7 is a crucial stage in education with students going through major physical, social and emotional changes – often as they transition to a new school or campus.
Students are expected to manage their workload without constant reminders from a single homeroom teacher; they must juggle timetables and textbooks and take responsibility for the standard of their work.
They’re adjusting to becoming the small fish in a big pond, surrounded by seniors in a new school environment. At the same time, cornerstone concepts are being taught that will form the foundation of their college education.
This according to ACG Strathallan Year 7 and 8 dean Clinton Thomas, an educator with 15 years’ experience teaching and five years as a dean at the independent school in Karaka.
“Students need to be treated differently at the intermediate age,” he says. “They must be nurtured, as they’re still young, yet challenged academically to avoid losing interest.”
Providing the right support through the change and development is key, Mr Thomas says.
“At ACG Strathallan, we hold regular tutor classes for students in Years 7 and 8 to discuss things like peer support, organisation, and preparing for exams; we run camps to help grow supportive social networks; and we ensure our students have access to me, their dean, or the school counsellor when necessary,” he explains.
Year 7 students at the school also receive specialist subject teaching, moving to different classrooms for lessons in English, Mathematics, Science, Social Science, Art, Design & Technology, Music, Drama, Physical Education, Spanish, Chinese and ICT.
This, he says, has enormous academic benefit.
“Specialist teachers have the experience, knowledge and ability to draw out the best in their students. They can extend the advanced students and help lower-ability students with many different approaches. Their subject knowledge is at the highest level.”
Most importantly, he says, specialist teachers have the passion, excitement and motivation to teach their subject well.
“Students feed off this vibe. They see their teacher’s love for the subject, and it motivates them to excel,” Mr Thomas explains.
Strong support and tailored specialist teaching see students through what may otherwise be a tumultuous year.
“Once these are in place, students have the foundation for a fantastic all-round education.”