My name is Chris Johnston and I am the Head of Middle School. I have two deputies, Laina Hickey and Danny Rowland, and together we are responsible for pupils’ pastoral care and academic progress through their two important GCSE years.
In the Middle School, each form has a form tutor who has been carefully selected because of their ability to work with pupils in the Fourth and Fifth Forms, who remains a pupil’s tutor during the two years. As in other sections of the School, tutor groups will have about 24 pupils, and each form has a form prefect who works with the tutor on both administrative and pastoral duties, including acting as a mentor to selected pupils.
As well as registering pupils twice a day, tutors will also see pupils for tutor periods every Tuesday and Thursday, and some Wednesdays. During this time, tutors will pass on important information and will use the time to further broaden a St Albans School education. In both years, this will include discussion of the term’s PSHEE topic, activities and conversations to support the development of the School Values, and the organisation of charity projects.
In the Middle School, we realise the importance of goal setting and encouraging pupils to consider their aspirations for the future. As part of the ongoing careers guidance programme, all Fourth Form pupils will complete the Morrisby Profile – an aptitude test – during the Summer Term. This is followed by a one-to-one conversation with their tutor to review the profile and discuss future plans, including A level choices and beyond. We also have a full programme of support to aid pupils in achieving their ambitions. Miss Hickey, Mr Rowland and I work closely with tutors, subject teachers and the Learning Support Department to ensure that all pupils are empowered to reach their full potential.
Recognising the importance of soft-skill development, we also run a Middle School Leaders programme through which pupils develop their team-working and leadership skills. In the Fourth From, this is through membership of the Charity Committee, embodying the School’s motto, Non Nobis Nati. Whilst in the Fifth Form pupils are trained as Lower School Mentors, whereby they provide a peer support for younger pupils in the community.
There are many opportunities available for pupils to make the most of in Middle School. Alongside studying for 10 GCSE subjects, they have access to a full range of co-curricular activities, including the Silver Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. We actively encourage all pupils to participate in the co-curricular programme, as we believe it is an integral part of their education and furthers the development of values such as courage, organisation and reflectiveness, which are essential for success in the classroom and beyond. Pupils also have the opportunity to undertake the Higher Project Qualification, which encourages an inquisitive and industrious attitude and will enable them to develop their independent study skills.
Regular Middle School Assemblies tackle important concerns and topics facing pupils and combine with the PSHE programme to develop their empathy and mindfulness about the School, local and global community. Recent Middle School assemblies have included: Goal-setting; Resilience; Managing Risk; Physical and Mental Health and Wellbeing; Study Skills and Internet Safety. PSHE during the Middle School covers topics such as: Diversity; Risk Taking and Self Control; Healthy Relationships and Mental Health.
St Albans School believes in a holistic education, and through its pastoral, academic and co-curricular endeavours, we hope that all Middle School pupils will develop the qualities of self-discipline, ambition and integrity, which will enable them to flourish during their time throughout the School and in their life beyond.
St Albans School offers a curriculum broadly based on the National Curriculum, while giving pupils the opportunity to study additional subjects.
The Middle School Leaders programme is a new initiative, that launched in September 2018. The scheme is designed to give pupils more leadership opportunities, enabling them to become active citizens in our school community, whilst developing the valuable soft skills required for later life.
It is part of our strategic vision in the Middle School to bring in more values-based education and enable students to really embody the school motto of ‘Non Nobis Nati’. The scheme is open to all pupils across the Fourth and Fifth Forms and it has been really pleasing to see a broad range of pupil apply for the roles. We recognise that leadership comes in many forms, so we run two separate initiatives that students can choose to be involved in: the Middle School Mentoring programme and the Middle School Charity Committee. To help inspire them, all twenty students attended a workshop given by Foundation Performance before starting the programme. During the session, the students learnt about the multi-faceted nature of leadership and reflected on their own qualities as a leader. They could then put theory into practice, in the setting of their choice.
Pastoral care is a significant strength of the School and every teacher in the School has a pastoral role. The School’s 2014 ISI Inspection Report cited pastoral care as ‘excellent’ and noted that each pupil was ‘well-known and valued as an individual’ as the staff know their pupils ‘extremely well and foster an excellent atmosphere of trust and safety, leading to strong and positive relationships’.
All our pupils, from First to Sixth Form, are members of a tutor group, organised by year. The tutor is the first point of contact for parents and oversees the personal and academic welfare of pupils, through a combination of informal contact and tutor periods. Tutors meet with their tutees twice a day and play a key role in the delivery of our PSHEE programme and in ensuring that their tutees are healthy, both mentally and physically.
Coordinating the work of these tutors are the Heads of Section, who are all members of the Senior Management Team: Lower School (Years 7 & 8), Third Form (Year 9), Middle School (Years 10 & 11) and Sixth Form. A distinctive feature of our pastoral care is the supportive role played by form prefects, sixth formers chosen by a very careful selection process to assist the tutors.
The School Nurses and Chaplain make an important contribution to our pastoral provision, while the Counsellor, who is not a member of staff, is available each week for confidential consultation.
Parents can meet their child’s teachers and tutors at Parents’ Consultation Evenings and at a number of informal social occasions during the year.
St Albans School celebrated many outstanding individual achievements in our 2022 GCSE results.
Please click here to read more about our results.