Where is my child heading?
As we approach the end of the year, each year group will be looking at next year, when they move up through the school. It is a time of transition for all students in the school, so in the final Coffee Morning of the year, Tr Jon spoke to parents about the various student transitions that will be occurring across the school in the next couple of months.
Primary into Secondary?
On Friday 9th June, we welcome the current Year 6 students up to our Secondary campus for their Transition Day. This gives them the opportunity to get a taste of what life might be like in the Secondary School, and to help to minimise uncertainty when it comes to the start of the year in August.
It does not seem that long ago that our students were walking in the front door for the first time. For the Year 7s, they were the new students and attending Secondary School for the first time. From Friday, they will no longer be the new students. They have embraced the opportunities at Network Secondary over the last year and will now have younger students looking up to them.
Some of these Year 7 students have applied for the leadership position of Transition Ambassadors and they will play a pivotal role in helping the Year 6s when they arrive for Transition Day, but also when they fully arrive as the new Year 7s students in August.
The end of Key Stage 3
For our current Year 8 students, they will be moving into the final year of Key Stage 3. This is a crucial year in their development, prior to starting their IGCSE courses. This is the perfect time to develop good study habits, especially with independent work after school. As the top students in Key Stage 3, they will also have the opportunity to take on leadership positions within their Houses, sports teams and other ECAs.
They will already be starting to think about their IGCSE options and it will not be very long until they are making their provisional choices. This is not a decision that they should rush into.
We design our final subject blocks, our timetable and therefore our staffing, around our current students. The subject blocks do not remain the same from year to year. Therefore, in Term 2, students and parents are given an Options Booklet and access to a popout website with information about each subject. There is also an Options Fair, which parents and students are invited to, so as to help with their understanding of each course. From students’ initial top five choices, we build our option blocks to try to ensure as many students as possible get their first choice combination. Once these are finalised, students are asked to make their final decision in Term 3, following the Year 9 Parent-Teacher meeting.
As the year draws to a close, it is a good time for our Year 8 students, as well as all of our students really, to reflect upon the last year. They should think about where they have made the most of the opportunities available to them in Secondary School, especially after 2 and a half years of online learning. They should think about how they have engaged with ECAs, with House events, with friendships, with lessons and particularly how they have taken ownership of their learning.
There has been a well-recorded phenomenon around the world of school attendance post-Covid. School attendance has gone down from what it was before Covid started and we have seen this for ourselves from some students. As our Year 9 students go into Year 10, it is particularly important for them to tackle any issues of poor attendance, although it does go without saying that this is important for students in all year groups.
As they begin their 2-year IGCSE course, they need to ensure that they are well-prepared for the final exams. They do not want to be examples of students who go into the last holiday before the IGCSEs and have no revision materials to work from. It is vital that they prepare appropriately for each end-of-topic test and keep suitable notes that they can refer to months or even over a year after they have studied a topic. Ideally, they will have developed some suitable revision habits over the course of Year 9 and so they should recognise what they have learned in terms of what worked and what did not work, into Year 10.
As they go into Year 10, it is also imperative that they think about the type of profile that they are building for themselves. If they end up applying to university in the USA, then it is likely that their reports from Year 10 will be submitted as part of the application process. Therefore, it is a time to really ensure that their reports next year best represent the person that they want it to represent, especially around ECAs and school involvement.
Over the course of their own first year of IGCSE studies, our Year 10 students have learnt a lot in their subjects, but also about themselves. They too need to take this into the next academic year and ensure that they are in a strong position for the next set of Trial Exams in January, and ultimately for the end of Year 11.
As the newn Year 11 students, many of them will be thinking about applying for the U Kyaing Scholarship and so the profile that they have built for themselves will be critical. Just like this year, we will be looking for students who represent and embrace our values that are so crucial to Tr Carole, so those students who are academically curious and embrace opportunities that are available to them.
Our A Level timetable, just like the IGCSE one, also gets built around our current students. Therefore, our new Year 11 students will have the same opportunities as the Year 9s, as we ask them for their preferences for A Level.
Into A Level
Of course, there are different Post-16 options for students, but we strongly believe in the power of A Levels. Reviewing these different options will be a focus of a Coffee Morning early in the next academic year (2023/24).
A Levels are considered to be the “gold standard” at post-16, with students encouraged to go into depth in their chosen subjects, in preparation for study at university. Students also have free reign in what subjects they choose, so someone who enjoys sciences can study Biology, Chemistry and Physics, while someone else who enjoys Arts and Humanities can study English Literature, Geography and History. Equally, students can choose a unique mix of subjects that plays to their strengths and passions.
The strength of the IB as an option is that of the Extended Essay. As of next year, our students will be able to complete the Extended Project Qualification, and so will have the benefits of this research-based project that develops key university-style skills.
As our Year 11 students enter Year 12, a crucial difference from IGCSE is the presence of Private Study periods on their timetable. As they transition towards university studies, the typical expectation of A Level study is that students complete one hour of work outside of the classroom for every one hour that they spend in the classroom with the teacher. Some of this work outside class will be set by the teacher, some of it will not and will be purely independent. What this work should never be is work that is done by a tutor: that defeats the object and can damage the progress of the student.
During the course of Year 12, our students will also take a more active role in the Compass Programme, as they consider their options for after A Level. A major part of Year 12 is exploring: exploring which countries they might like to go to, exploring which universities within that country they might like to attend; and exploring potential courses. What might have been their first choice university and course at the end of IGCSEs, if they had them, may well change over the course of AS Levels, especially as they receive exposure to a greater variety of options.
For our current Year 12 students, they are about to start the final year of their A Level studies. This coincides with their university applications, which they will likely submit between September and January.
Similarly to Year 11, a huge amount of work and effort for this final year is required from the students, with even more independent focus needed. They must make effective use of their Private Study periods to optimise their performance, but also to prepare them for the type of work that they will undertake at university, when they will not have teachers and parents keeping an eye on them and making sure that they complete their work to a suitable standard.
They will also be at the top of the school with all eyes of younger students on them. Whether in a leadership position or not, they are the role models in the school with students looking up to them and staff expecting much from them.
Our Year 13s sit their final A Levels this week and then the waiting game begins, as they will not know the final decisions about universities until their results come out in August. Our graduating students are always a part of the Network family, even once they’ve flown away from the school with a bit of Network with them. This means that whenever they need us, we are here for them: that may be on Results Day if things do not go their way or later down the line. We welcome them back and very much hope to increase the connection that our alumni have with the school, with an increase in alumni events and events for our current students that involve our alumni.
For now, with a week to go, our focus is on helping them to prepare for life in a foreign country, whatever country that may be in, and on celebrating their achievements as the Class of 2023.
Head of Secondary
Network International School
- Secondary School
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