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Building curiosity and confidence through camps and clubs

Haileybury’s Middle School years are a time to discover new experiences and new skills

NEWS 1 May 2023

From forest camps at Marysville or exploring key landmarks and sights of Canberra to clubs dedicated to dance, speedcubing and science, the Middle School years at Haileybury have most interests covered.

The Middle School years are a bridge to help students move comfortably between the primary years and secondary school. This is a time when students discover their passions, follow their interests, deepen their learning and venture outside their comfort zone.

“The Middle School program and structure is designed to support students as they enter adolescence, which is a core developmental stage,” says Melissa Allen, Head of Middle School Teaching & Learning.

“Each year, students develop their independence and sample many offerings as they decide what their current and future passions may be. The curriculum is deliberately designed to cultivate independent, high achieving learners through an environment that nurtures exploration, innovation and aspiration.”

The Middle School introduces Haileybury’s Parallel Education model with academic teaching occurring in single-gender classes in the Boys Middle School and Girls Middle School. Middle School camps follow the same format.

“The Middle School camp program allows students to form strong connections with their peers and teachers. They are designed to challenge students and move them from their comfort zone to a growth zone.”
Melissa Allen

“They experience independence away from the comforts of home and are responsible for cooking meals, navigating bush walks and maintaining their cabins or tents. Students create many memories that they look back on fondly long after they leave Haileybury.”

However, there are many opportunities for students to mix and mingle during breaks throughout the school day and during co-curricular activities like clubs and competitions. Just as camps are an important rite of passage during Middle School, clubs are also an important part of the Years 5 to 8 experience and there is pretty much something for everyone.

Science Teacher, Adrian Lam, manages clubs for enthusiasts of chess, robotics, esports and also oversees a Maths Talent Quest for Middle School students who are fascinated by mathematical challenges. These clubs come under Haileybury’s Curious Minds program which includes a range of activities that focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and Literature, Entrepreneurship, Arts and Politics (LEAP).

“I think Curious Minds clubs are very important for the social and emotional wellbeing of students – it’s a chance to step away from the standard academic environment and meet different people and form new connections across multiple year levels.”
Adrian Lam

“STEM might not be for everyone and some students may initially be intimidated because they don’t feel they’re good at STEM subjects, but we have less traditional STEM clubs like speedcubing. Speedcubing club started this year and involves students trying to solve a Rubik’s cube as quickly as possible” says Adrian.

The speedcubing club is run by Haileybury teacher, Jeff Plumb, who once worked with two-time world Rubik’s Cube Champion, Feliks Zemdegs, creating online tutorials about how to solve the puzzle.

Clubs are often initiated by student interests. Last year, STEM Captain, Laura Leuner, launched a weekly Science Club and Middle School Science teachers took turns running fun and unusual experiments for the club members.

“One week, a teacher brought in her personal fossil collection and another week we learned about fire. I did a demonstration on the Prince Rupert’s Drop where a teardrop-shaped piece of glass explodes violently once chipped,” says Adrian.

Clubs are an interesting and effective way for students with particular interests and talents to deepen their learning and stretch their capabilities, too. Haileybury regularly takes part in external competitions to challenge students, with many of the Middle School students who take part achieving impressive results.

“Last year, three girls achieved High Distinction in the tough Maths Talent Quest and were invited to an awards ceremony at Melbourne Museum to celebrate their success and meet other like-minded young people,” says Adrian.

“This encouraged them to continue building their mathematical abilities, and their achievements were an excellent opportunity to showcase female representation in STEM and to inspire more girls to strive for excellence in this field .”

For students entering Middle School, whatever their interests or talents, somewhere in the Haileybury curriculum there will be a camp or club that sparks the curiosity of every young person.