Year 9 is distinctly defined at QEH, being between the Lower and Middle School and offering boys unique challenges and opportunities.
Experienced staff guide Year 9s in the transition from Year 8 to GCSE, helping them to flourish, knowing that physically and emotionally they develop at different rates. Some boys will battle with adolescence much earlier than others and you may notice that your son seems less communicative as the year goes on. Others remain immature in their outlook and may struggle with the serious choices facing them in the Spring term. Friendship groups may also change which is unsettling for some, particularly as they enter new form groups. Pastoral care remains the priority with the change from three forms to four being a positive social and academic experience.
Boys are, in the first place, supported by their Tutor who they will see every morning in their form rooms. They are also monitored by their Head of Year who tracks their progress through a mixture of formal meetings and informal discussions. Boys are encouraged to approach both Tutor and Head of Year if they have concerns. The School Counsellor plays a central role running a successful Peer Support scheme involving Sixth Formers who spend a fortnightly form period with the boys offering them social and academic support. Year 9 meets as a Year group every Wednesday for an assembly which seeks to foster a sense of community through presentations and discussions. The boys are encouraged to take an active role and view it as an opportunity to share their experiences and talents with their peers.
Year 9 is the last time that the boys will not be driven by an examination syllabus and can enjoy a freer, wide, stimulating and varied curriculum whilst making well-informed choices of GCSE options. A broad programme of activities, clubs and extra curricular opportunities in music, sport and drama complement academic work and further enrich the experiences of each boy.
Some boys enter the school at Year 9 so the challenges can be even greater. Our induction session at the end of Year 8 eases some of their concerns and prepares them for their first day in September. These boys are also given an e-buddy, a member of the Sixth Form Peer Support team, who can be contacted during the summer holidays prior to starting in Year 9. In conjunction with our pastoral team, boys are carefully monitored and offered extra support to help them settle in as quickly as possible. An early phone call home from the Head of Year will begin the all important partnership between home and school.
Mrs Elizabeth Conquest (Head of Year 9)