17 Jul, 2017
10 : 00
Big changes are coming to the Yew Chung International School of Beijing! This August, we’re shaking up our longstanding school level divisions, moving Year 6 from the Primary to Secondary School division to create a Year 6-8 Lower Secondary section.
Alana Martin, our Head of the Lower Secondary Learning Community, explained how the school is reimagining the Lower Secondary system and how the elaborate new support network that will help prepare students for success in Upper Secondary and beyond more effectively than ever before.
How does the new Year 6-8 Learning Community differ from our old Lower Secondary School?
What we’re doing with this community is developing a true middle school. We’re developing a 3rd school within the school that is unique from the secondary and primary schools. What we’re trying to do for this age group of kids is to provide them with a transition before they start the rigorous IGCSE programme. It’s an opportunity to bridge the gap.
Historically, the shift was really abrupt for students. Our goal for our new Year 6-8 Learning Community is to make that transition three years long, building their skills along the way to make them successful when the high pressure IGCSE kicks in.
How does this new Learning Community model support a smoother academic transition to Secondary School?
In Years 6-8, we will continue to focus on the core skills that students will need in Year 9. We’re utilizing the established MYP (Middle Years Programme) skill clusters, which are a recognized precursor to IBDP.
All of the different subject area teachers in Years 6-8 will be assigned a different soft skill to start the year which they will seek to emphasize in their lessons. They’ll focus on different skills periodically throughout the school year, encouraging better collaboration, problem solving, etc., in order to get kids ready to maneuver project work on their own.
We’re also redecorating classrooms to include half desks and half other furniture. Varied furniture is very important for supporting different learning styles, whether it’s couches, desks, benches, stools, etc. Research shows that this furniture allows educations to have a greater ability to take risks and be creative, plus encourages students to more readily work with other students in classrooms.
These revamped classrooms also help us nurture the ideas of self-awareness, control, and freedom in students, all skills they will need to have a firm grasp of in Upper Secondary.
Aside from academics, what other benefits does this model offer students?
Our key goal is to make them feel like they’re part of a community. One example of this is giving all the current Year 7 students the chance to talk with the Years 5-6 students about their experiences. Once the new school year starts, we’ll be giving all of these students across grade levels opportunities to work together, which provides another level of support for students that find adjusting a shock.
Another thing we’re doing is mixing up tutor groups. Instead of having only one grade level per group, we’re going to have a groups with Years 6-8 together. This will help to build a stronger sense of community, expand the school, and build friendships vertically. This will help the emotional transition as well since new Year 6 students will have more peers to rely on and mingle with across levels. We recognize that the social aspect of school is a very important one; it shouldn’t be limited to a student’s own year level.
Finally, from a teacher’s perspective, now that everyone knows what is happening in everyone else’s classrooms, we believe that students will feel like there’s more connections between classes and teachers. Having that transparency with what’s happening in the curriculum gives students a greater sense of purpose with their learning and provides added motivation and positive results.
Visit our School News page for more updates on the 2017-18 school year by clicking here!