Breaking the Ice

Every cohort in a school is different. A year group of children, like any family, has its own character, built around the uniqueness of the individuals that come together to make it. Each and every child contributes to that character, allowing it to mould and change as the group develops. This is why the formation of a new cohort in school is such an important and exciting time.

On Saturday we welcomed over 50 Year 6 students from local junior schools to sit our entrance exam. Added to the 40 coming from our own junior school, we can see the start of a new cohort in the making. Whilst the assessments might be the focus of the day, it is also the first step in the crucial process of friend-making and team-building. It can be tough facing the junior to senior school transition, for those coming on their own there can be an extra worry. Having spoken to many of the children, I recall three and a half years ago when my own youngest daughter started in Year 7 at AKS, having just arrived from a decade living overseas. Making friends and feeling one belongs is so important and at AKS we know that students learn better when they feel secure and happy.

I was delighted to see our Sixth Form students leading ice-breaking games and watched as the children relaxed. Smiles grew, introductions were made and ideas were shared. I am very proud of that Sixth Form team; they really care about the youngsters in their charge. Knowing well the anxiety that can surround exams and assessments, they were ideally placed to encourage and support.  The School’s excellent track record at GCSE and A level speaks for itself.

Those who remember this transition best are our current Year 7s. They joined us for lunch, mingling with the Year 6s and explaining some of the challenges and opportunities that the next 12 months might bring. We love to see young people mentoring and guiding each other, with a genuine desire to help. By the end it was clear that our visitors had enjoyed themselves; the early nerves had gone and new friends talked excitedly about the future.

Once ice has been broken, the journey of belonging can begin.

M H P Walton