At Port School we are continually seeking ways to improve our programs. We identified that a key component, where we could add to the development of our younger students, would be to create a separate learning environment for our Year 8 and 9 students. The catalyst for this was the significant number of enrolment enquiries for students who had not successfully transitioned to a secondary school environment. It was decided, following extensive consultation, that a model of education more similar to a primary school setting would be beneficial to Year 8 and 9 student educationally at risk.
Port Middle School therefore operates slightly differently to a conventional secondary school system, in that students complete all their classes with the same teachers and education assistants. These educators cover the entire curriculum, with a critical focus on literacy and numeracy. The key goal is to bring the students up to an educational standard that will help them flourish once they enter the Upper School.
This is achieved by teaching through high-impact instruction, based on the results of current research and evidence about teaching, learning and cognitive science. Explicit direct instruction is used, and checks for understanding are undertaken at multiple points throughout a lesson. Both participation and engagement are improved by ensuring everyone masters the concepts being taught and retains the learning in to the future.
One of the most important aspects of this program is the time spent changing the fixed mindset and perception of students, built over the years, of ‘failure’ at school, to believing that they can learn, and that by attending every day and participating on class, they are becoming smarter.