Saba schools join forces to improve transition from primary to secondary

With new principals at the helm of Sacred Heart School and Saba Compre­hensive School (SCS), the two institutions are work­ing together for all pupils/students to have a successful school year and to improve the transition from primary to secondary education.

According to new Sacred Heart Principal Ildefon Verberne, the primary school has three simple goals this school year: happy pupils, happy teachers and happy parents.

“My style is to work togeth­er with the staff. It’s not my party, so we do it together,” said Verberne. She explained that these three goals have been divid­ed into 10 steps of execution. One step is giving pupils more ownership, she said. For example, this year the school has rolled out a “car­ousel” system where the lower grades will now choose between music, dance, multi­media and art as their assem­bly item.

“We will use this for the as­semblies to give them more life. I am new and I don’t want to give the feeling that we have to do everything new or better. There were nice things going on and that have been done, but we are going to do things differently,” said Verberne.

A kindergartener ‘crosses the bridge’ to symbolise transi­tion to first grade.

Sacred Heart also can boast of starting the new school year with a new two-storey building, which was con­structed to accommodate the growing school population. Verberne praised her team for their hard work to pre­pare their classrooms for Monday’s school opening amid the construction pro­cess, which extended into the opening week for the teach­ers and administrative staff.

Verberne also said the kindergarten department will see a change in its curriculum, where the learning streams from Dutch knowl­edge centre for education SLO will be adopted.

“This method is divided into various goals. A child has to reach to be ready for grade one,” she explained. “The school has ordered mate­rial to cater to each goal. They will learn the goals now through materials and not out of books, because I think four- and five-year-olds learn better by playing and not out of a book.”

According to Verberne, this adjustment is an effort to im­prove the educational base of a child starting from kin­dergarten, which in the long term helps lessen the gaps when transitioning to sec­ondary school.

In this vein, Verberne said various tests will be carried out to identify the gaps with the support of Expertise Center Education Care EC2. “This is to help the transi­tion from primary to second­ary school become smoother. What is their real level, what must they learn and know before they start secondary school,” she said.

During the summer break, a summer school programme was also organised for the sixth graders, which was aimed at strengthening cer­tain subject areas.

SCS Principal Jessica Bes­selink, who has been at the head of the secondary school for some eight months, said focus is also on effective communication through rec­ognising personality traits and applying social, emo­tional, and relational skills. As part of the school’s in­duction phase, Besselink said all teachers had sessions with incoming students on adapt­ing to their new educational environment.

“We have 12 different teach­ers in form one, who have 12 different styles of working and personalities. This is dif­ferent for the students who are used to one [or maybe even — Ed.] a few teach­ers,” she said, adding that an evaluation will be done in six weeks to receive feedback on the new students’ transition.

Besselink said SCS’ 29 teachers and 10 support staff are dedicated to the two main goals of emotional and digital literacy this school year.

“A large part of our day is online. So, knowing how to communicate, and learn­ing in which way [to com­municate] is important. Do we send an e-mail or a text? When do you use social me­dia? Can you use it for edu­cational purposes? So, it goes hand-in-hand. Especially for teenagers, their lives are on­line, and we have no view of it. So, we need to give them the tools to navigate in a healthy way,” said Besselink.

Besselink noted that SCS now has an anti-bullying co­ordinator, who is also the student counsellor. “SCS has an anti-bullying protocol, which will be in­troduced to the students.  There are certain ways of reacting to certain behav­iours,” she said. Verberne shares this senti­ment.

“We have to start by identi­fying what defines an incident and then address it. When we change our attitude as a staff, we give the students what they need to change. We have to start with social interac­tion. We have to look at the behaviour and not respond to the behaviour. Most of the time we have to do something about it; we should not be afraid to address things,” Ver­berne said.

Commissioner of Education Eviton Heyliger visited both schools during their opening assemblies earlier this week. He welcomed pupils, stu­dents, teachers, and parents into the new school year.

Both Verberne and Bes­selink expressed their satis­faction with the support their schools have gotten from the public entity; for example, in the programme whereby parents have received school supplies.

The Daily Herald.

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