Why The Middle School/Senior School Model?

December 11, 2012 at 2:31 PM

At Saint Kentigern we believe that the Middle School/Senior School model provides the strongest foundation for the educational journey of our students and is most suited to the developmental stages of young people.

The reason is firstly pastoral as we believe it is the best way to care for every student and secondly this model fits very well with the qualifications we offer.

In 2002 when Saint Kentigern College was a Boys only College our biggest concern, when planning for the introduction of girls and growth in numbers, was how we would maintain the strong and renowned pastoral care of our students. To do so we looked at models of school organisation in Australasia and further afield. Being a Year 7-13 College, the best model we found was to break the College down into 2 distinct Schools. Middle School being Years 7-10 (11-14 years approximately) and Senior School Years 11-13 (15-18 years approximately). This way with a current College roll of 1670, 840 are in the Senior School and 830 are in the Middle School.

Saint Kentigern has a pastorally based and strongly competitive House system with 4 Houses (Cargill, Chalmers, Hamilton and Wishart). In each of our two Schools we have a Head of House (plus a Head of Year 7) responsible for the pastoral care of approximately 185 students each. These students are all in a small Tutor Group (which average 14 students) so each House within each School has 16 Tutors who are responsible to the Head of House for the care of their Tutees. We talk about the importance of the family, so the smallest family is the Tutor Group within the House family, within the School family, within the College family, within the Saint Kentigern family.

This way we ensure every student at Saint Kentigern College is cared for by at least one significant adult who sees them on a daily basis. This is so important as at secondary school level where students move from class to class and teacher to teacher they could so easily go unnoticed. We ensure this does not happen.

Once we had the Middle School/ Senior School model in place we were then able to look at both the research and practice in Australasia and globally of the best pedagogy for teaching students within the two distinctive age groups. Our conclusion was that students aged 11-14 years learn best in single gender classrooms, in banded classes however, socially boys and girls need to be given the opportunity to mix together, if they chose to, at morning tea and lunchtime. Some of these boys and girls will prefer to socialise only with their own gender so need to be given play areas where they can do so. The Middle School have a lunchbar all Middle School students can use.

In the Senior School young men and women aged 15-18 years are preparing for the next step in their education journey so all our Senior School classes are co-educational and the teachers treat the students as young adults on the journey to becoming independent learners who can cope well in life outside of school. The style of pastoral care is far more relational in the Senior School as in the Middle School students need more guidance in regards to practising the Saint Kentigern values of respect, integrity, service to others, aiming for excellence in all we do, caring for each other. In the Senior School there is an expectation these values will be part of who we are and how we treat each other. In the Senior School classrooms our students learn to work collaboratively with both genders, become self‑managing so that they are always working to improve on their personal best. All our Senior School students gain Level 1 NCEA which prepares them well for either of the 2 qualifications they can choose to do in Years 12 and 13, National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) or the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma.

Our Senior School students have a Café (Saints) and two large Senior School only quadrangles with covered seating where they can eat and socialise. Year 13 have their own large Common Room which links to Saints Café. They can use the Café before and after school, during study breaks and at morning tea and lunch time.

We believe this is the best model possible for the development of confident, independent, caring young men and women who will go onto “lead and serve with distinction”.

Suzanne Winthrop
Deputy Head and Head of Senior School 

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