In Year 7, our primary aim is to help pupils feel comfortable and safe at the College so they may fulfil their academic potential. Lower School pupils are generally taught in form rooms and this helps them to quickly establish a sense of community and belonging. At the start of each day, pupils can expect to be greeted personally by their Head of Year, and friendships that were established during the team- building days at the beginning of the Michaelmas Term are cemented when each class spends a week at the Dulwich Outdoor Centre in the Brecon Beacons. For many, this trip is a highlight of their time in the Lower School. It helps to develop self-confidence, perseverance and tenacity when faced with difficulties – life skills that are just as important as the academic skills learned in the classroom. We deliberately encourage a broad curriculum, which exposes pupils to a wide range of emotions and situations, so they are able to develop their sense of empathy and tolerance. This is achieved through the delivery of a diverse curriculum that explores themes of race and identity, including day trips away from the College, to Neasden Temple for example, and Free-Learning days that involve other schools within the community, such as Year 7 Spanish Day in association with City Heights and Dulwich Prep London. Pupils take part in a comprehensive programme of Wellbeing lessons, which are held weekly. Initially, these lessons focus on personal relationships, making friends,
discrimination, tolerance and anti-bullying but then expand to include healthy eating and living, puberty and exploring human rights and what it means to live in a democracy. Pupils are encouraged to develop their emotional literacy and a six-week resilience course, including keeping a gratitude diary, encourages this. In Year 8, wherever possible, pupils remain with the same Form Tutor they had in Year 7. In this way, we continue to provide the continuity and consistency necessary to help pupils cope with the challenges presented by adolescence and puberty. At a time when pupils are experiencing significant emotional and physical change, we provide them with a stable environment in which they can safely explore and develop their own identity and sense of independence. We help pupils in Year 8 to develop their leadership skills by running clubs and societies for other members of the Lower School. There is also a peer mentor system that assigns members of the Upper School to each Lower School tutor group. We encourage them to continue to take part in as many co-curricular activities as possible, so they might find a particular area in which they can specialise later during their time at the College. Finally, we encourage pupils to reflect on their experiences in the Lower School, so that they are then able to manage, independently this time, the transfer to the next stage of their life at Dulwich in the Middle School.
As part of the six strands of our Wellbeing Programme, pupils in the Lower School cover a range of topics:
Living in community
Preparation for the future
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