Middle School

Middle School Thinking

Since its inception in 1997, Pacific Hills Middle School has sought to create a learning environment in which adolescents thrive. We provide each child with opportunities to identify and develop their own gifts, interests and abilities. This always begins with an engaging classroom in which children are known by their Home Room Teacher. Beyond that, the broader School provides opportunities for students to grow academically, in service, faith, leadership, sport, creativity and performance. Our goal is for each student to fully engage with their learning, and with the learners around them.

The 'middle years' are a time of tremendous change for children. Between Years 5 and 8, students develop physically, socially, spiritually, emotionally, and cognitively. It is also the time when students' values and perceptions become their own, as they take important steps towards becoming adults.

Children need to have both times where they are 'free to be children' and times of supported challenge. In the Middle School, we understand this, and our Years 5-8 structure enables us to cater for it. Events are offered that provide a balance of childlike fun and thought-provoking maturity. Middle School at Pacific Hills is a place in which adolescents are known, taught and cared for.

  • An authentic Middle School with dedicated programs, classrooms and resources specific to children in Years 5-8
  • A team of teachers who understand the developmental and educational profiles of children across this age range
  • Structured to meet the needs of the emerging adolescent thus making learning time more productive
  • A place children learn by having safe opportunities with technology, performances/presentations and sport
  • A place where children enjoy learning
  • A community in which children connect with each other, with their teachers and with God

What happens in Middle School?

Student development is supported

Our Middle School structure provides a uniquely tailored environment, in which students are supported and guided in their journey through adolescence. Every Middle School Student has a place – a Home Room - and a person - a Home Room Teacher – that is theirs. The Home Room becomes a known and familiar space that serves as a base for students learning to manage their learning.

The Home Room Teacher has special pastoral responsibility for their Home Room Class. They are specifically trained in the needs and characteristics of young adolescents.

  • Year 5 and 6 students have their Home Teacher for the majority of their core subjects but are also taught Science and Technology, Visual Arts, Music, Mathematics Extension, by subject specialist teachers in specialist rooms shared with Senior School.

A Day in the Life of a Year 5 student

TimeActivityDescription
Period 1
(8:40-9:30)
English with Home Room Teacher
Period 2
(9:30-10:20)
Mathematics Grouped by ability across Years 5/6
Pastoral Care
(10:20-10:35)
Pastoral Care with Home Room Teacher
Recess
(10:35-10:55)
Recess Handball, conversation, canteen, friends, sport
Period 3
(10:55-11:45)
HSIE with Home Room Teacher
Period 4
(11:45-12:35)
Science & Technology with specialist Science or Technology teacher
Lunch
(12:35-1:17)
Lunch Handball, conversation, canteen, friends, sport
Period 5
(1:17-2:07)
Biblical Studies with Home Room Teacher
Period 6
(2:07-2:57)
Visual Arts with specialist teacher
  • Year 7 and 8 students continue to have a Home Room teacher that teach them a number of core subjects in their Home Room.

A Day in the Life of a Year 7 student

TimeActivityDescription
Period 1
(8:40-9:30)
English with Home Room Teacher
Period 2
(9:30-10:20)
Mathematics with specialist teacher
Pastoral Care
(10:20-10:35)
Pastoral Care with Home Room Teacher
Recess
(10:35-10:55)
Recess Handball, conversation, canteen, friends, sport
Period 3
(10:55-11:45)
History / Geography with Home Room Teacher
Period 4
(11:45-12:35)
Science with specialist teacher
Lunch
(12:35-1:17)
Lunch Handball, conversation, canteen, friends, sport
Period 5
(1:17-2:07)
Biblical Studies with Home Room Teacher
Period 6
(2:07-2:57)
Physical Education with specialist teacher


This means:

  • Students make a more gradual move from having one key teacher figure to having many, rather than the traditionally abrupt change at Year 7.
  • Children and parents have a clear, caring first point of contact with a teacher who knows the child and the issues of this period of development.
  • Students stay engaged and don't get lost in the system.
The curriculum is NOT ONLY WHAT IS TAUGHT IN THE CLASSROOM.

We are aware that in every school so much more is taught than just the prescribed curriculum.

The curriculum of the Middle School is more than the content. Quality teaching programs utilising a variety of technologies and resources and with embedded biblical perspectives mean that the whole child is taught as preparation for more independent learning.

The curriculum of the Middle School continues beyond class time with sport and interest groups. Middle School strives to offer opportunities where interest is shared. These include:

  • Sport – from sports with high profile and participation to less known sports, we want children to be able to get involved in what interests them.
  • Groups – these range from opportunities in performing arts (music, singing, dance, drama, etc.) to clubs (Chess, Science, Mathematics, Art, Photography, etc).
  • Service – serving within the School, in our local area, in NSW, Australia and overseas (Peer Support, Student Council, Missions, etc.)
Camps:

Each year group in Middle School has a camp each year:

Year GroupLocationActivities
Year 5 Bathurst Goldfields Learn about Australia in the 1850s Gold Rush and its people
Year 6 Canberra Learn about Australia's democratic history and the blessing of freedom and choice
Year 7 Lake Macquarie Make connections with new friends and enjoy new activities like sailing and rock-climbing
Year 8 Selwyn Snowfields Celebrate the last year of Middle School by spending 3 days skiing Selwyn Snowfields

Starting Middle School?

There are two main entry points for students in the Middle School, Year 5 and Year 7. Limited places may be available in Year 6 and Year 8 from time to time.

Year 5 Entry: Students who commence in Year 5 receive the full benefit of the structure of Middle School. They receive a head start on developing the habits and understanding the expectations they will need for Senior School. Each Middle School student is taught to use a diary, manage homework, research, write and think, use skills that assist with organisation. Students have subject specialist teachers for a number of subjects, and are timetabled into specialist rooms such as Science Laboratories, Design and Technology Workshops, and Visual Arts Rooms. Every student has access to specialist Music Tutors as part of the Hands on Performing Arts Program. This means that in Year 5, students make connections with teachers who will be teaching them as they complete their schooling in Year 12.

Year 7 Entry: Students who commence in Year 7 receive the benefit of two years' development and familiarisation with high school expectations whilst benefiting from the support provided in the Middle School environment. The swift establishment of strong relationships with peers and the Home Room Teacher means that new students are connected and comfortable - which is crucial to productive classroom experiences. This means a great start to High School and an excellent preparation for Pacific Hills Senior School.

The How of Middle School

Research has shown that the teacher is the most crucial element in a student's learning. The ability of the Home Room Teacher to understand the children in the classroom means that children are connected. Middle School builds these connections in many ways, including camps, for each year group. 

Children in the middle years begin to ask more questions and progress from concrete thinking to abstract thinking. Teaching in the Middle School works with this curiosity by providing opportunities for inquiry and challenge using language and technology with which children need to become familiar.

You may be interested to read the Middle School Handbook. It contains specific information about regular activities and procedures, including:

  • Assessment and reporting
  • Discipline and encouragement
  • Uniform

Augustine at PHCS

The Augustine (Gifted & Talented) program at Pacific Hills caters for students with high intellectual potential and/or high academic achievement. These students are encouraged to value the gifts and abilities each brings to Augustine and to use their gifts in service to others:

… each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10

Augustine Extension (& Acceleration - Yr 8 only)

The Augustine Extension program in Middle School provides for the needs of gifted and talented students in Years 5 to 8. It caters for students of high ability and/or academic potential, as identified by external IQ testing, standardised testing, specific above level subject test results and other indications of academic performance, such as NAPLAN and competitions, as well as teacher identification.

Students from Years 5 and 6, and a separate group from Year 7, work with the Middle School Augustine teacher for up to four periods a cycle. They are involved with an enrichment/extension program called Global Studies which incorporates work across a range of curriculum areas and diverse topics. The program taps into the special interest areas of students in order to accommodate a characteristic of high ability students, that is, their inquisitiveness and passionate curiosity in often specific, even obscure, subject matter.

Provisions include

  • The study of Latin by considering the etymology of words with Latin origins in diverse thematic areas, as well as, an introduction to the Cambridge Latin Course.
  • Literacy extension also includes a ‘book club’ style reading program. “Words.Words.Words” Lunchtime English club is also recommended.
  • Science extension will involve participation in the PHCS Science Water Research Project and the PHCS Science Conference. Involvement in the lunchtime Senior School Science Club may also occur.
  • Maths extension will include Australian Maths Association Enrichment.
  • Students are challenged throughout the year with a Bloom’s Taxonomy approach to applied problem solving, lateral thinking tasks and research projects, related to Stage 3 and 4 Syllabus outcomes.
  • External activities such as Maths Olympiad are also inclusions in the Middle School Global Studies Augustine program.

Students are identified in Year 7 for placement in the Augustine Acceleration programs for Mathematics and Science, which commence in Year 8. The classes are held concurrently with across grade classes in the same subject.


Attachments:
Download this file (ms_orientation_handbook_2017.pdf)Middle School Handbook.pdf[Middle School Handbook]729 kB