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.
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.