The Pymble Middle School provides girls in Years 7 and 8 with challenging learning experiences and the emotional support appropriate for this unique stage of their lives. During these formative years, students’ abilities and interests are nurtured in a caring community. A comprehensive academic, co-curricular and wellbeing program supports the intellectual, emotional, social, physical and spiritual growth of every girl.
Middle School students are encouraged to embrace intellectual challenge opportunities, to express themselves creatively, to extend themselves physically, to engage themselves spiritually and develop their character and personal leadership by participating in the many opportunities on offer. These approaches assist in creating connections between peers, older students, staff and our wider community.
Various learning environments, experiences and programs in the Middle School are deliberately designed to enable academic and personal growth. Learning is social, learner-centred, perspective rich and challenging. There is a deliberate focus on mastering subject specific skills and deepening knowledge, as well as developing competency in communication, collaboration, critical thinking, problem solving and creativity.
Teachers in the Middle School work collaboratively to offer students a supportive environment where they feel challenged enough to grow, yet confident enough to become independent, try new approaches and flourish. Students are encouraged to set high standards to attain their personal best and to develop into compassionate, confident and resilient young women.
Student Wellbeing Program
In the Middle School there is recognition that both emotional and social education is important for girls to gain maximum benefit from their school experience. Students need to feel healthy and safe in their learning environments in order to thrive both at school and in their personal lives. By providing an environment where each girl can learn lifelong skills, students continually develop personal values and build adaptive relationships to assist personal development and success.
Our Student Wellbeing Program promotes identity formation, positive relationships, resilience, a strong sense of community and environmental awareness. There is a focus on inclusiveness and support for adolescent girls at a time of great change in their lives. The program is designed to facilitate and engender acceptance, perspective and understanding amongst the girls. Leadership and community are very important component of adolescent education alongside a focus on being supportive of one another. Most girls will find this a productive time when they learn valuable life lessons including the importance of self-care and the care of others.
Supervised peer-led activities take place during lunch breaks throughout the year, to encourage physical activity, creativity and connectivity between Middle School students.
The focus in the Year 7 program is transition to life in the Secondary School setting. Through a program called ‘Connection Week’, students enjoy workshops and information sessions on areas such as time management, organisation, communication and use of technology.
In Year 8, girls are encouraged to develop a greater awareness of themselves as learners and are taught to set goals in an effective way. Recognising their strengths and how they can make a valuable contribution to our community is crucial to the Student Wellbeing Program, aimed at developing skills that enable responsible decision making and enhance resilience and leadership.
In Year 8, girls take part in the Kids Teaching Kids Conference Day showcasing their unit of work, SEEDS (Science, Earth, Environment, Design Solutions). SEEDS is an independent Science project in which the students endeavour to develop design solutions for environmental issues facing Australia. The Year 8 students are encouraged to extensively research an environmental issue and present their design solutions in a range of interactive formats throughout the day. Examples include design solutions for sustainability issues such as food, textile and packaging waste, plastics, sustainable farming, pollution to marine ecosystems, and renewable energy.
The Year 7 Core Subjects are as follows:
- Religion and Ethics
- Visual Arts
- French, Japanese, German or Mandarin-Beginner or Heritage level
In Year 8 students add History as a learning area and are given the choice to continue their Year 7 language choice and an additional elective or select two electives from the list below:
- Financial Literacy
- Visual Arts
- Literacy and Language (by invitation only)
- Hypatia (by invitation only)
- 20 Hour Electives with a design focus
Additional Challenge Opportunities for our High Potential Learners
Each year, a Year 7 and a Year 8 team represent the College at da Vinci, an inter-schools competition. Each team involves eight girls and a reserve. Places are selected through application.
Hypatia is a deliberately designed program for selected girls who are given the opportunity of learning classical Greek language, culture and Euclidean geometry in Year 7. The girls then progress on to learning philosophy and ancient History in Year 8. The girls have one lesson a week and are extracted from class for this lesson.
The Pymble Ladies’ College Sokratis Program is designed to enable academically talented Year 8 students to research a topic of their own choice and to create an original work of their own with the guidance of a staff mentor. Selections are based on academic results and staff nominations. For more information, please visit the Curriculum and Activities section.
Challenge Café is run by the Deputy Head of Middle School Learning, Deputy Head of Senior School Learning, High Potential Learning Co-ordinator and includes Year 11 Subject Captains who act as mentors for the Middle School girls. Year 7 girls study how drama has developed through the ages from its conception in Ancient Greece, and the girls explore Sophocles’ play, Antigone, sharing their learning journey with their families in a celebratory performance/showcase at the end of the year. Year 8 girls agitate for positive change in their world, working collaboratively to find solutions across a broad range of issues during Semester 1. In Semester 2, they explore philosophy and investigate the theories of classical and contemporary philosophers, then apply them to modern dilemmas.
The girls are strongly encouraged during their time in the Middle School to explore what makes an effective leader, consider female role models in the community and to apply for one or more of the many leadership roles available to them including, but not restricted to, the following roles:
- Buddy (Volunteer position)
The role of a Buddy is to help new students have a welcoming and positive experience from the very beginning of their time at Pymble. This role is essential in helping our new students settle in as quickly as possible
- Pymble Morning Tour Guide (Volunteer position)
Year 8 students can volunteer to be Pymble Morning Tour Guides. Students will undertake a leadership induction program which will allow them to take prospective families on guided tours around the College
- Tech Ambassadors (volunteer position)
Years 7 and 8 students can volunteer to be a digital leader and become part of a team of students, known as the Tech Ambassadors, who work on technology-related initiatives alongside the Senior School ICT Captain.
- Drama Captains (staff-selected position)
Two students from Year 7 and two students from Year 8 from each House will be selected to work with the House Liaison Officers to co-ordinate and direct their House performance for the Middle School Performing Arts Festival during Term 2. Drama Captains are responsible for the co-ordination and organisation of students for the production of the Middle School Performing Arts Festival during Term 2.
- Chapel Leaders (Chaplain selected)
Chapel Leaders will work with the Chaplains, staff and students to help improve Christian worship at Pymble and support the smooth running of Chapel services for the duration of the year. They also help co-ordinate Music staff, student musicians and singers.
- House Liaison (Elected position)
Two House Liaison Officers will be appointed per house from the Middle School for the duration of the year. Their role will be to support the Year 12 House leaders in implementing the activities and events through the House system.
- Connect Captains (Elected position)
Two students per Connect group are elected by fellow students to represent their Connect class for one term. Their main role is to act as leaders and co-ordinate activities within their group.
- SRC Leaders (Elected position)
Twelve students (6 per year group) are elected by fellow students to represent their Connect class for one term. Their main role is to act as leaders and co-ordinate activities within their group.
- Middle School Leaders (Staff selected position)
Students in Year 8 will be appointed each year following an extensive application and interview process to be the Middle School Leaders. These girls will represent the College at official school functions, act as ushers at school events, co-ordinate Middle School and special assemblies, and welcome and give the vote of thanks for guest speakers. They will also work closely with the Middle School Prefects to implement activities within the Middle School.
Peer Support Program – Year 7
Research has shown that young people who have strong connections with their school and family achieve better results and outcomes than those who have weak connections.
Our College Peer Support program involving Year 10 students provides an opportunity for young people to participate in their school community and build strong relationships with each other. The Year 10 students learn important communication, problem solving and leadership skills as they get to know the Year 7 students. In turn, the younger students enjoy the support of a trusted older role model as they make the transition to Secondary School.
Peer Support Leaders are briefed on what is required for each session, what the aims of each session are and how to scaffold any problems that exist within groupings. Regular contact outside these sessions is encouraged and often Year 7 students will approach their Peer Support leader to assist them with settling in and friendship concerns.
Outdoor Education Learning Experiences
Pymble Ladies’ College provides girls with an education that prepares them for challenges and the rapid changes of the 21st century, equipping them with the skills that will make them life ready.
All Middle School students are expected to attend the Outdoor Education Program. The compulsory program offers students the opportunity to experience individual challenge through a range of adventurous activities. Year 7 students attend an ‘Alpine Experience’ in the Snowy Mountains and Year 8 students attend an Outdoor Education Program in Mount Killalea State Park.
The program addresses the ongoing development of students such as:
- developing specific outdoor skills in a natural environment which requires initiative, resilience and an awareness of others
- raising environmental awareness and appreciation
- extending self-perception and taking positive risks
- focusing on the skills required to live together in small communities.
These experiential learning opportunities promote and enable educational and behavioural developments and changes, which “impels participants into challenging and demanding situations requiring effort, determination, co-operation and self-reliance” (Hattie, Marsh, Neill and Richards, 1997).
The Years 7 and 8 Outdoor Education programs aim to encourage positive risk taking and foster integration as a cohort.
National Exchange Program – Year 8
The National Exchange Program provides an opportunity for selected Year 8 students to experience a taste of what it is like to attend a school in another state. It is a unique pathway to building resilience and independence towards the end of their time in Middle School in preparation for possible future international exchange experiences offered in Upper School. The students engage in a selection process which includes a written application and interview, which in itself provides experience and grows confidence. During their time away, the girls are billeted with families for four days and then return to Sydney to provide a reciprocal experience for their exchange sister. A Pymble teacher accompanies each group and the eight-day program culminates in a Sydney exploration day which allows the students to showcase highlights of the city of Sydney.
Previous exchange schools have included:
- Wilderness School – Adelaide, South Australia
- St Catherine’s School – Melbourne, Victoria
- Radford College – Canberra, ACT
- John Paul College – Brisbane, Queensland
- Fahan School – Hobart, Tasmania
- Worawa Aboriginal College – Regional Victoria
- Perth College – Perth, Western Australia