Why Middle School?

The middle school years, from roughly ages 10 to 14, are of vital importance to young people's cognitive and emotional development. Our Head of Middle School Brad Gill discusses the need for this critical period of learning.

Amongst a sea of support for the justification of middle school is extensive research about how important – and different – the middle school student's brain and emotional underpinnings are – and how important their education is.

Whilst I am a staunch advocate for the existence of intentional middle schooling, middle school cannot simply be the renaming of a set of buildings whilst maintaining pedagogical and pastoral programmes and approaches that have historically been utilised in either a high school or primary school setting.

"The middle grades are the last best chance that we have to get students on the right path toward academic and career success," writes Sandy Kress, a top United States Government education official who was a key player in the development of the platform Middle School Matters.1

Today, the significance of this period for learning – and learning good habits – is seen as critical for everything from developing independence, grit, curiosity, personality traits and study habits to making decisions about a future post-secondary education.

It is such a critical time for learning, and we can craft learning environments and experiences that respond to this important phase of development. It is a period of transition; from boy to adolescent, from dependence towards independence, from being extrinsically motivated to intrinsically motivated. We have the opportunity help our students develop a strong sense of self and their own metacognition, all in a safe and nurturing environment with educators who specialise in working with boys of this age.

Developing any optimum environment requires careful reflection of best practice, analysis of contemporary research and thoughtful deliberation of, in Scotch's circumstances, 'what is best for the boy'. The structure of the College's Middle School considers these variables and intentionally responds to create a progressive, internationally minded learning environment that develops engaged and innovative learners.

To maximise the opportunity for breadth of growth intentional middle schooling must:

  • Provide real-life, experiential learning that focuses on the development of character and intellect.
  • Ground ideas in active, engaging experiences.
  • Provide timely, qualitative feedback on students' learning activities.
  • Encourage the learner to generate content.
  • Select challenging tasks that require explanations, reasoning, and problem solving.
  • Design curricula, tasks and assessments in different contexts, media and practical applications.
  • Promote self-regulated learning.
  • And, in my opinion, utilise the International Baccalaureate's Middle Years Programme's Approaches to Learning, Attitudes and Learner Profile.

As middle school educators we pride ourselves on 'knowing the boy', so that ultimately 'the boy' may learn to know himself.

Mr Brad Gill
Head of Middle School

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1 https://www.bushcenter.org/explore-our-work/taking-action/middle-school-matters.html 

Meet our Head of Middle School

Brad Gill

Brad is a passionate educator and is highly regarded in the schools community as a people-centric leader, mentor and innovator.

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