Welcome to the MECS Middle School - a great place to be challenged to have the courage to reach your potential.
In the MECS Middle School we understand that education is much more than the passing on of knowledge – it is about helping the students become well rounded, life-long learners. Each student is unique and the Middle School program gives students the opportunity to explore who they are and how they learn best in an innovative and challenging environment. For decades now MECS has been on the cutting edge of Middle Schooling. Long before most other Australian schools had even considered the concept of Middle Schools, MECS has been providing a distinctive educational approach through our Middle School which is tailored specifically for the learning and developmental needs of early adolescents.
‘Courage to Believe and Act’ - During a time when our students face a number of pressures (social, emotional, educational etc), we want to spur them to have courage: *Courage to believe in a God who cares for each of them. *Courage to believe that they are capable and can extend their learning. *Courage to try new things. *Courage to stand up for what is right, and speak up for those who need a voice.
Middle School at MECS comprises Years 7-9. Although it is part of the broader Secondary School, it is a distinct section that reflects the unique nature of our students. More than any other time in their lives, students in this age group will exhibit vast differences in the rate at which they mature physically, emotionally, academically and socially. Teaching and learning in the Middle School takes into account the unique stage of our learners, while seeking to broaden their knowledge, skills, and opportunities. We see each child as being created in God’s image, with unique gifts that are to be celebrated and nurtured.
The Middle School years are challenging, messy, and fun and we hope you will join us for the journey.
Mrs Karissa Esselbrugge
Assistant Principal - Secondary
Mr Allan Long
Middle School Coordinator
The values of Humility, Thankfulness, Self-Control, Co-operation and Adventurousness were chosen for their relevance to all young people. Each of these values meets the individual where they are at, forms a wonderful base for rules and expectations, and assists to clearly articulate the culture we are hoping to cultivate in the Middle School.
Humility - Valuing others and ourselves
Thankfulness – Feeling and showing appreciation for others and our resources.
Self-Control – Taking responsibility for our behaviour and thinking before we act.
Cooperation - working with others to accomplish a common goal
Adventurousness – Stretching ourselves beyond our comfort zone in life and in learning.
We understand that the transition from Primary School to Secondary School is a time of enormous change for students and their families. We are keen to make this transition as smooth as possible. During Term 4 of the year before your child commences Year 7, we hold a Family Information evening. The evening is intended for students to get to know their Middle School teachers, the Middle School spaces and their new classmates, all with the safety of having their parents close by. A few weeks later the students attend Orientation Day where they have the chance to build upon the relationships initiated at the Family Evening. The purpose of these activities is to alleviate any stress students may be feeling, by answering their questions, familiarising them with new faces, places and spaces, and giving them a clear idea of what Middle School will be like.
The middle year of ‘The Middle School’ has a focus on shaping the desires of students and teachers towards the kingdom for the purpose of ‘shalom’. At a time when students tend to become more egocentric, the Year 8 curriculum challenges students to look beyond themselves. Through studies on environmental stewardship, community service and global issues, the students begin to develop a greater awareness for the ‘brokeness’ of God’s world, and more importantly, their role in seeking to restore and transform God’s kingdom.
Highlights for students during Year 8 include; Girls/Boys Health camps, the elective program, Term Tasters, Yarra Ranges Tec School sessions, Global Issues Expo and the Wilson’s Promontory hiking camp.
The Year 9 Cultural Studies program is unique, innovative, challenging and engaging. Students are encouraged to consider the way they work, think, communicate and behave. Students develop their thinking and learning skills through their self-designed individual and group assessment tasks. Through such projects the students are given opportunities to develop and grow in a variety of areas that have been identified as important skills for ensuring ongoing success: effective collaboration with others, pulling their weight in a team situation, managing time well and striving for accuracy and precision.
Seminars (similar to a university lecture) are regularly used to give the students targeted instruction on a specific topic. These are held in small groups and organised to repeat a number of times in the week so that the students can select when they attend. Through the intentional design of Open Village, the students are drawn into a rich opportunity to develop essential skills for life and learning both inside and outside the school environment. It is our hope that this program will help equip students to become transforming agents for positive change in the society in which they live.
Highlights for students in Year 9 include; Farm visits, cheese tasting, film watching and other ‘immersion experiences’. City Camp, Canberra Camp, whole-level community building, hands-on learning opportunities, extension electives, hands-on electives and the Ranges-Tec ‘taster’ day.
At MECS, each Middle School student has a pastoral care teacher. While all teachers look out for the needs of Middle School students,
the pastoral care teacher for each child has the prime responsibility.
“Academic success and personal growth increase markedly when young adolescents’ affective needs are met. Therefore, every adult in developmentally responsive middle level schools serves as an advocate, advisor, and mentor. The concept of advocacy is fundamental to the school’s culture, embedded in its every aspect. Advocacy is not a singular event or a period in the schedule, it is an attitude of caring that translates into actions, big and small, when adults respond to the needs of each young adolescent in their charge.”
This We Believe: Keys to Educating Young Adolescents, (2010: Association for Middle Level Education, p35).
In the MECS Middle School, our approach to discipline follows the principles of Restorative Practice. This approach recognises and helps students understand that relationships are damaged when behaviour goes wrong, or poor choices are made. The Restorative Practice approach acknowledges each person’s perspective, helps to build relationships and helps students work towards restoring the problem. Students learn that issues and problems can be worked through resulting in forgiveness, healing and restoration. This process is in line with a Christian perspective - we forgive each other as God forgives us. We seek restoration of relationships, as God does with us.
As students progress through the Middle School, we acknowledge that they are of an age when they are beginning to make decisions regarding future pathways. The subject selections are designed to provide students with a range of learning opportunities. In Years 7 and 8, all students participate in Term Tasters and Electives. Term Tasters are smaller classes that rotate through four learning areas of a term’s duration. While offerings change from year to year, they usually cover areas such as photography, coding, gardening, cooking, dance, and rock climbing. Electives are multi-age classes with eight subjects on offer to Year 7 & 8 students. Subjects may include Music, Drama, Technical Drawing, Manual Arts, Fitness, Outdoor Ed, Handcrafts, Media Studies. Electives are semester long.
In Year 9, students have three sets of electives. Students will choose two electives of year-long duration. These elective subjects are studied with the Year 10 students. One elective will occur once a fortnight for half a day, and the second will occur twice a fortnight for 75mins per week. A total of 16 electives are on offer for each of the students and have a more hands-on approach to learning. Electives cover areas such as Fine Arts, Manual Arts, Film & Media, Textiles, Dance, Robotics, Engineering, Set design, Handcrafts, Sport Science, Fitness, Drama, Hospitality and Music. song-writing/band, drama, and fine art. The second elective selection is our Extension Electives. Students can choose between four options; Indonesian, Engish, Maths & Supported Study. The extension electives are for Year 9 students only.
Special Week... MECS has a long tradition of running an exciting program known as Special Week. During this week, held in mid Term 3, the ‘normal’ curriculum is set aside, and a special focus takes place. In Year 7, the students investigate Medieval Europe. In Year 8, the focus is on raising awareness of Global issues. Finally, the Year 9s learn about running a business enterprise in Industry Week. The highlight of the week is the Showcase Evening, where family and friends are invited to come and share in the learning, while buying goodies and tasting delights from the Year 9 market.
Wonder Days ... These two days, held early in Term 2, are an opportunity for students to explore areas under the STEAM umbrella - Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics. Students will choose the activity(s) in which they will participate over the days. Activities will vary each year, but in previous years, these groups have focussed on flight, robotics, coding, forensics, geometric art, marble runs, game theory, mythbusters, bridge engineering, the solar system, Lego systems, and 3D design utilising our 3D printer.
In the MECS Middle School, each year level has a set of laptops for the students. These laptops are the property of the school, and are serviced and maintained by MECS IT staff. As students head into the Senior School, they are able to choose to bring their own device (BYOD) or use the laptops available. MECS does not have stand-alone ICT classes. The ICT components of the Victorian Curriculum are integrated throughout the subjects undertaken in Middle School. At times throughout the year, Middle School students will head over to the Yarra Ranges Tech School (YRTS) in Lilydale. MECS is a partner school of YRTS and is able to utilise the vast array of state-of-the-art technical equipment as part of the Project Challenges. These projects are designed to develop high-level transformative skills in students, such as: communication, global citizenship, teamwork, adaptability and agility, leadership, critical thinking, problem solving, creativity and innovation.
From the beginning of 2020, mobile phones in the Middle School will be stored in locked cabinets in each classroom throughout the school day. Student’s phones will be collected during morning devotions classes and returned during the 10minute dismissal session at the end of each day.
Camps and other ‘out-of-classroom’ experiences are an important part of the educational program at MECS. Each camp is an extension of the work done in class and is not regarded as an ‘optional extra’. Consequently, students at MECS are required to attend camps just like they are required to attend school each day and the camps are included in school fees.
Camps are a priority because of the way they enhance the learning of our students. We feel it is valuable for students to not only learn about various aspects of God’s creation but also to experience them first hand. Learning is greatly enriched by such experiences and it has greater relevance. Camps allow staff and students to respond more creatively to learning situations and to think ‘outside the box’. They provide opportunities for students to ‘shine’ and demonstrate their God-given gifts in ways that do not readily occur within the general classroom.
In Middle School, the range of camps are as follows:
Here at MECS we celebrate the ‘different kinds of normal.’ We nurture diversity and shape education to allow everyone to experience the rich joy of learning well. Within the Middle School years, the Education Support team offers a range of options to build on student learning. Jenga and Jenga 3D are programs for students who require additional support in their learning, or who require extension and enrichment in particular subject areas. One-to-one withdrawal programs are offered to individual students who prefer this mode of support, whilst other students prefer to remain in the classroom and work with a learning assistant either singly or with a small group of students.
Through our sports program, students have the opportunity to represent MECS at interschool sports. These include individual sports such as swimming, athletics and cross-country; as well as the team sports of Netball, Basketball, Futsal, and Volleyball/Badminton. Students who perform well at an interschool level in individual sports have the opportunity to compete at higher levels. Expert coaches in some team sports will work with MECS teachers to bring further depth to the sports program. Keen students should keep an eye out for Tribal challenges held at lunchtimes. We also offer an additional Netball and Soccer Sports Academy outside school hours. Students participate in training one morning and one afternoon per week.
Students gifted or interested in the areas of performing arts have a number of different opportunities to develop their skills, including our instrumental program, our band and ensemble opportunities, and our biennial Secondary musical/drama production. Our Instrumental program at MECS includes a team of tutors providing lessons in a range of instruments. At recitals, our community of parents, friends, staff and students gather to support our soloists and ensembles from throughout the school. Every second year the Secondary School coordinates and performs a Production to the school community. All Secondary students are invited to take part with auditions held for the main roles.
Students in the Middle School are nominated by staff for for our formal Student Leadership Program. Under the guidance of one of our senior staff, students are supported to expand their skills in leadership. Students are also provided opportunities to develop their skills through training days, networking opportunities and off-site workshops throughout the year. The Student Leadership team is responsible for assisting to lead Middle School Assemblies, representing student voice (SRC), planning and delivering community-building opportunities and events, and assisting to promote positive school culture.
I invite you to come on a personalised tour, and see the MECS difference for yourself. As a past student and current parent, I would love to share some of my MECS experience with you and tell you more about what makes this school unique.