Year 9 at St Andrew’s is a most exciting year that, based on research, has been purposefully designed to cover the themes of Academic, Service, Adventure, Independence, Environment/Culture and Enjoyment through a unique Connections Program which enables students to get out of the classroom and into the world.
The Connections Program is an integral part of St Andrew’s Year 9 curriculum which sees students embark on week-long, off-campus academic experiences exploring Brisbane, Melbourne, and Stradbroke Island. Costs are incorporated into the school fee structure so there are no additional fees for the trips.
St Andrew’s teacher, Jonathan Harding, said the timing of the Connections Program is strategic and helps students maintain their focus and interest for the whole year.
“The cohort is split into three groups, travelling to either Melbourne, Brisbane or North Stradbroke Island for a week-long experience and then rotating to another location in Terms 2 and 3,” Mr Harding explained. “Each experience presents students with real-world problems to examine and explore.”
From assisting with a soup van for the homeless in Melbourne to hearing presentations by Indigenous Elders on Stradbroke Island, the trips are all about collaborating in small groups and exhibiting a high level of personal responsibility which sows seeds for the future.
The multicultural experience is further enhanced on the North Stradbroke Island trip where students listen to presentations by Indigenous Elders from the Quandamooka People.
“Students are presented with questions and topics of discussion on unfamiliar situations which enables them to think about complex ideas such as beliefs, values, culture, politics and the economy,” Mr Harding said.
The trips are also a perfect opportunity for Year 9’s to leave their bubble and try new things in unfamiliar environments. Students complete projects based on their research and present to parents at the End of Year Expo. Parents often comment that the trips were life-changing for their child.
“The Year 9 program is well-balanced and maintains the rigor of a traditional academic course with the engagement of a 21st century learning structure,” Mr Harding said.
“By giving Year 9 students opportunities to employ higher order thinking skills, we begin to prepare them for workplace and tertiary institutions in a time of delicate adolescent growth. Our students often look back on their Year 9 Connections experiences and consider them a highlight of their Secondary years.”