Teacher's Blog: The Primary 7 Experience

7th March 2019
Teacher's Blog: The Primary 7 Experience

Our latest blog post comes from our Primary 7 Co-ordinator and class teacher, Mrs Luciana Verrecchia. 

When I’m asked, "What makes the Primary 7 Experience so special?" my reply is always the same, "Where do I start?"

To work in partnership with this group of young people - adolescents, pre-teens, ‘tweens’, whatever their preferred name, is always a privilege and a pleasure. For me, it is the crucial transitional stage in every pupil’s life; educationally, emotionally and spiritually.

Jesuit institutions, known for their academic rigour and well-rounded education, are among the best in the world. Students of all faith and belief backgrounds find value in our commitment to intellectual exchange, social responsibility and push to lead for change.

Our aim in Primary 7 is to provide a secure and happy environment where everyone is comfortable from the beginning, establishing new friendships, positive interactions and feeling immediately part of the community. We set the bar high and provide fulfilling teaching and learning experiences, and continue to promote good health and wellbeing and a growth mindset, whether their move is from Primary 6 in the College’s Junior School or from a different school entirely.

The Primary 7 classrooms are situated in the main Senior School building, in the midst of the ‘hustle and bustle’, providing an excellent opportunity for the pupils to experience their final school year as members of the Junior School in the secondary setting. They also have the added benefit of working with, at certain points of the year, Senior School teachers, making this setting a perfect springboard from where to establish a ‘safe landing’ in the larger academic community that is the Senior School.

"Young people can experience a wide range of cognitive, biological and emotional changes as well as unique social transitions in their journey through adolescence. Their brains are growing at a rapid rate and have huge potential. With support and understanding from trusted adults around them they can take forward healthy behaviours and outcomes into adulthood" - NHS Scotland

At this stage, children experience academic, emotional and spiritual development at different rates and to different degrees. The development may also seem inconsistent. This can be a challenging time for young teens. They begin to realise what is important to them, what skills and talents they possess, and what learning they believe will apply to their future lives. We, as Primary 7 teachers, work with parents and carers, to provide care, patience, practical scenarios and inferential questioning that allow our young people at this age to clarify and expand their thinking. In addition, we encourage children’s independent and interdisciplinary learning to explore areas of interest or to tie what they are learning to everyday life or their future goals. Children this age need support in finding balance, after all, as Pope Francis states, ‘... we need to put into practice a more just way for all of us to live in this world as sharers in a common destiny,’ 

As far back as 400 years ago, Jesuit founder, St. Ignatius Loyola, often ended his letters to Jesuits going to the missions with the expression, ‘Ite, inflammate omnia’ - Go, set the world on fire!  But what does this mean for our pupils?

Our role as Primary 7 teaching practitioners has importance, but the school day in the classroom is only one part of a child’s intellectual curiosity. Research projects via the iPad, STEM links, trips abroad, retreats, conferences and competitions with other schools, outdoor educational awards, Expressive Arts performances, Primary 7 Socials; the opportunities and extra-curricular activities we offer certainly help extend the passions that get ignited on a daily basis.

"We contribute to a better world only by personally doing good now, with full commitment and wherever we have the opportunity" - Pope Benedict XVI

Service to others is not only at the heart of the College but something that we strive for in our own lives as teachers and for the young people under our care. At the start of the year, Primary 7 pupils are provided with a self-reflective, e-learning journal that helps them set realistic academic, social and practical goals. They monitor their progress, as do the adults around them. As they reflect, they can see their achievements and the impact they are making towards others.

The Primary 7 Experience provides our pupils with leadership opportunities including Head Boy and Girl, House Captains, Companions, and Prefects, all of which help them to show compassion towards the younger ones and their peers. They can lead Pupil Voice Forums such as Publicists group, Rights Respecting Schools and Digital Cafés, using such platforms to help make a difference within the school community.

I am passionate about promoting an active and varied spiritual life for the pupils. Through our Jesuit Pupil Profile, the Pope Francis’ Faith Award and the instruction and participation in the Sacrament of Confirmation, we provide opportunities for our young people to discuss, learn about, and empathise with issues affecting people of different beliefs in local, national and global communities. We help pupils become resilient and responsible, discerning and confident individuals, who will make a positive impact in this world - instilling in them the idea of using and demonstrating, to the best of their ability, their God-given talents, with ‘cura personalis’ (caring for others), at the heart of what they do.

Primary 7 pupils at St Aloysius’ College are also eager to promote their stage and school. I often hear them in the corridors with prospective parents and pupils, discussing confidently and proudly, what we do and what it means to be a part of our Primary 7 ‘family’:

‘This is where the best teaching happens, I’m actively involved...’

‘Here is where all the learning from over the years comes together...’

‘I have learned to stand on my own two feet and was given a post of responsibility...’

‘There are many opportunities available and I made some great friends in Primary 7...’

‘I know I belong here, that I’m a true Aloysian and this is my home...’

The Jesuit Pupil Profile states that ‘Curiosity is needed to sustain learning. It is what keeps us going. It is what opens up new horizons… Learning is something to be actively engaged in by probing, seeking, asking, challenging, questioning until the truth is plain – it is to think for oneself and become a lifelong learner’.

I would urge you to further ignite your curiosity and visit us here in our transition year, immersing yourself, and your child, in what is, the Primary 7 Experience.