In the Middle Years, pastoral care is arranged in a horizontal structure, with Heads of Year assisting at each Year level. Homeroom Teachers and Tutors take significant responsibility for the care of students in their class groups. In keeping with a guiding philosophy of the Middle Years at Somerville House, Homeroom Teachers and Tutors have substantial contact with students in their groups in their daily teaching. Consequently, these staff know the students in their care very well, and for many pastoral matters, they tend to respond initially to any parental or student concerns. Homeroom Teachers, Tutors and Heads of Year also play a critical role in assisting with the smooth transition of new students into the School.
If concerns emerge in a broader sense, Heads of Year endeavour to resolve these issues. They also ensure that policies which support the pastoral care program in the Middle Years are strictly followed. The Dean of Students and the School Counsellor provide care in instances relating to serious and/or on-going psychological issues.
Middle Years students have morning tutor sessions each day and formal weekly pastoral care sessions with their Homeroom Teacher or Tutor. During these sessions, discussions and activities are based on a central theme such as manners and demeanour, assertiveness, resolving conflict, strengthening support networks, dealing with stress, feeling and expressing gratitude, how to stay safe, making decisions and developing friendships.
Middle Years students are allocated to one of six Houses for sporting, cultural and other activities. House-based programs provide informal pathways for students to develop a sense of connectedness. House Co-ordinators in the Middle Years act as mentors to the House Captains and have responsibilities for overseeing House activities. Separate assemblies and sporting carnivals endeavour to build a consciousness of belonging.
The Middle Years Arts Festival is a House-based activity which provides excellent opportunities for students in vertical groupings in Years 7, 8 and 9 to work collaboratively to produce performances which integrate elements of Drama, Music, Visual Art and Technology.
Opportunities exist in the Middle Years for students to fulfil various leadership roles, which are determined by appointment or by student vote. At each year level, the positions include Class Captains, Student Council Representatives and Captains of a range of co-curricular teams or groups.
Year 9 students engage in a specific leadership course as an important component of the Pastoral Care program. Students are encouraged to be supportive of the ethos of the school as shown in their personal presentation, exemplary manners and honesty, acceptance of all school rules and policies, willingness to serve the school community, and consider the needs of others before themselves.
Students learn how to take initiative and find creative solutions to problems. They are expected to work well within teams or groups, and to be respectful of other students’ ideas and opinions. Student leaders are expected to display confidence when communicating with peers, parents, staff and visitors to the Middle Years.
A number of Year 9 students are also appointed to the following positions by student voting and on the recommendations of teaching staff, including Heads of Year:
The Middle Years provides a wide range of co-curricular activities, which assist in the holistic development of students. The program includes outdoor education camps, excursions and activities, and structured programs at each Year level.
Students are encouraged to participate in a balanced program of sporting, cultural and community activities. Year 7 to 9 students compete in the The Queensland Girls Secondary Schools Sports Association (QGSSSA) competition. Musical groups are also formed to meet the particular needs and interests of Middle Years students. Students displaying extraordinary musical talents are encouraged to perform at their highest levels in senior orchestras, bands, choirs and ensembles.
Outdoor experiences in the Middle Years involve residential camps for periods of three days (two nights). The venue for the Year 7 camp is the facilities at Camp Goodenough, which is located in Northern New South Wales. Specialist outdoor educators undertake a program of activities in which the emphasis is on the building of skills and self-esteem.
The Year 8 camp is held in May at Mapleton. The main purpose of this camp is to develop skills through a range of challenging physical activities and team building exercises.
The Year 9 camp is located at Emu Gully via Helidon and is primarily activity-based to promote leadership and collaborative partnerships. Students receive tuition in various outdoor skills which prepare them for the more physically challenging camp in Year 10.
An important objective of the camps is to encourage students to view themselves as increasingly capable and competent. By attempting a graduated series of activities which involve physical or emotional risks, and succeeding in a supportive group atmosphere, students broaden their personal skills and develop greater self-esteem. Success or failure is considered to be less important than making a genuine effort. A co-operative and supportive atmosphere is encouraged through team building, to help enhance personal confidence. Outdoor experiences also assist in promoting proactive relationships with other students and teachers, helping to foster productive learning situations built on mutual respect.
There are a number of opportunities for parents to familiarise themselves with Somerville House including the Information and Orientation Sessions conducted in October/November prior to the year of entry.
There are also a number of functions to help welcome parents into the start of the new school year including our Information Sessions for the various sub-schools or year levels, as well as our 'Welcome to Parents' function. New parents are encouraged to attend a wonderful social evening of reacquainting with other parents as well as meeting new parents.
As well as parent groups that support co-curricular programs in the School, parents are also encouraged to become involved in the activities arranged by the Middle Years Support Group.