ISTCI Middle School is committed to challenging and nurturing our students to grow socially and emotionally, to excel academically, and to thrive on our extracurricular opportunities. We are uniquely positioned to tailor our environment to the needs of 11-14 year olds, offering three crucial years to learn more about who they are as people before they are pulled into a world of young adults. We aim for each student to leave us as confident and self-assured global citizens, fully prepared for the next stage of their learning journey.
By the end of primary school, the children are growing up quickly and often appear ready for a more grown-up environment. There is often implied pressure from senior schools to secure places. It can be argued that the move into middle school provides an opportunity for a fresh start. However, the best starting point in deciding where your child should go to school is to ask the question, what is the best education you can give to your child? The answer should not be limited to academic results – with good schools, that is a given. What is more important is to consider what is in your child’s best long-term interests, and to have a happy child.
Moving onto a senior school from ISTCI is inevitable, but we believe that the best education from Grades 7 to 9 – the happiest education – comes with being able to enjoy the opportunities, responsibilities and privileges that come with being the student leaders of a school. By the age of 14, they will be better prepared, personally, socially and academically, to thrive at any senior school in any educational system.
For the academics
The middle school years are key ‘stepping stone’ years that are often overlooked. They are the best years, pre-cynicism, for teaching and learning. As soon as they move to a senior school, the curriculum is predicated on IGCSEs and senior school staff have half an eye on what they are teaching and its relevance down the track. Too often, the best teachers in senior schools are teaching the exam classes and there is less focus and attention on these three years.
By contrast, there is a far greater freedom for us to provide extra opportunities for learning off-piste, or to teach something new. It is a wonderful age for children to absorb knowledge, to be curious, and to be challenged. By the time our students graduate from Grade 9, they are ready for anything that senior school could throw at them. They have learnt how to learn. They have acquired the confidence and work habits to be able to engage with independent study. By the age of 14, your child will have learnt the right habits and attitudes, the requisite skills and knowledge to thrive wherever they go.
For the extracurricular opportunities
As well as allowing more time for growing up without extra social and academic pressure, ISTCI Middle School provides the opportunities that come from being at the top of a school: to be involved in sports, leadership programs and residential trips as part of the leading cohort of a school.
This is when children can take leading roles in house events, student councils, sports fixtures, and plays, as well as take on other unique opportunities such as showing a prospective family around the school or speaking in assemblies. You can see their confidence growing through the camaraderie that builds up between the houses, through the socialisation of Duke of Edinburgh adventures and overseas trips, through debates, and through being at home in their environment. It is the most wonderful time in their young lives, to be at the top of the tree, to draw breath before moving into a much more demanding and competitive adult world at their next schools.
For the social development
The third crucial reason for remaining until the end of Grade 9 is that of having those three extra years for social and physical development – one fifth of their young lives – to become more confident and self-assured whilst inhabiting a familiar world. At a time when young people are under more pressure than ever before, going through the early years of puberty in a smaller and familiar environment can be hugely beneficial. They will have entered the first throes of adolescence with its myriad of doubts and feelings of vulnerability and insecurity, feelings best managed in a safe environment away from older influences, where they have time to develop the appropriate coping strategies in a community they know and trust.
For the community
And finally, as parents, you will never feel the same sense of belonging to a school community. When your child goes onto senior school, your influence diminishes, not because of a lack of hospitality, but because you will be made less welcome by your child in their adolescent world with all the angst that involves. Their senior school will be a different experience to life at ISTCI, and an experience that belongs more exclusively to them. Enjoy them while you can.