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Why we believe middle school is best

Posted on May 20 2013 at 11:53:27

Why a middle school . . ?

Recently a number of people have asked this question of me, probably because of the various worries parents may have about education and financial cut backs and other developments such as academies, University Technological Colleges (recruiting pupils from age 14), and the incessant problem of securing places at their choice of school.

Here, at Alvechurch Church of England Middle School, we are in a position to make our case for the middle school without any qualms.

We are a Middle School Deemed Secondary and that brings a number of advantages such as specialised rooms for science, information technology, food technology, art including resistant materials, and music.

Playing fields have room for soccer and rugby pitches alongside each other and are large enough for a full size running track, albeit grass, and cricket and rounders. Hard surfaces allow netball and hockey to be coached.

More importantly, middle schools have one major advantage over all other age range schools. We keep children up to the end of School Year 8. They do not leave at age eleven and become the “bottom” in a large High School.

So these children have the privilege of reaching the “top end” of childhood. They show all the development that we would wish for these ages. Their social skills progress without older pupils “looking down” on them.

They develop their personalities, show leadership skills, hidden strengths (and weaknesses!), and enjoy friendships in a more mature manner.

Parents often remark just how valuable these two extra years of real childhood are. At the same time they are changing and entering the “Teen Age” but without some of the pressures that pupils may be subjected to from the age of eleven in the High Schools.

In many ways they are better equipped to face those challenges which they inevitably will face. There is evidence that children who have been through a middle school are less likely to be bullied in their next schools.

Not only all that, but for the only time in their school lives they are not subject to statutory external examinations.

Key Stage Three has gone, and two years lie ahead for real progress not only in literacy and numeracy but in the widest possible curriculum.

This allows each child to develop interests and potential in so many other areas before going off to the demands of High Schools. They will be more ready to make reasoned choices about which subjects to follow when the time comes.

We at Alvechurch are fully committed to this way of life. A number of our children leave after Key Stage Two to enter local Eleven Plus High Schools or Independent Schools. That so many do shows the quality of our teaching.

It also allows us to take children into Years 7 and 8 to fill those vacancies. A number of parents always fail to secure a place here into Year 5 (the entry year) because we are oversubscribed.

Therefore this is a chance to come in to take part in what many may well describe as the “best school years of their lives”! The opportunity is also there to join up with friends left behind in their First Schools. 

Finally, we are not “tied” to send our children to any particular High School and so parents and children have the maximum time to make the correct choice.

Bryan Maybee, Chair of Governors
Alvechurch Middle School


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