Middle School (G6–8)
Dr Erin Robinson
Middle School Principal and Deputy Head of East Campus
Welcome to our Middle School and thank you for your interest in our school.
We take great pride in supporting adolescent students (ages 11–14; Grades 6–8) to successfully navigate the transition from childhood into young adulthood. We do this by instilling a strong sense of belonging, along with providing increased opportunities for independence, responsibility, and resilience. Within our learning programme, students realise their individual potential through exploration and stretching beyond their comfort zone.
Our students are inquisitive, confident and always striving to learn within our supportive community. We encourage students to become involved fully in College life by actively participating in our challenging academic curriculum as well as the Activities, Outdoor Education, Personal and Social Education and Service programmes—all of which help them to develop the skills and qualities they will need in High School and beyond.
While the school day starts at 8am and ends at 3pm, the learning doesn't stop there. Whether it is Mathematics class, rugby practice, service at an elderly care facility or kayaking in Sibu, the learning opportunities are diverse and take place both inside and outside the classroom. UWCSEA teachers are from many cultures and backgrounds and are constant learners themselves with the students’ best interest always at heart.
Please explore the wealth of information about our school on this website and in our admissions materials, and come visit us to see for yourself what makes UWCSEA special. We look forward to welcoming you.
Dr Erin Robinson
Middle School Principal and Deputy Head of East Campus
Learning in Middle School
This is a time of significant change in a student's intellectual, social and emotional development as they seek increased levels of independence and responsibility. Our school provides a supportive, safe and nurturing environment that recognises the unique developmental needs of Middle School students. We address the unique needs of this group through our holistic learning programme by providing opportunities for students to engage in a relevant, challenging, integrative and exploratory learning programme.
Students are surrounded by a team of caring and supportive adults who know them personally. At the start of each academic year, all students are placed in a mentor group of 22 students under the care of a teacher-mentor (who also teaches in the Middle and/or High School). Mentors meet with their mentor group for three 20-minute and two 40-minute sessions per week, and students experience many aspects of the learning programme in their mentor groups.
All students have a laptop equipped with College-supplied software, and access to on-campus helpdesk support. Our online learning platform is used by students and teachers to manage their work, collaborate and submit homework.
School starts at 8am and finishes at 3pm, although many students will be involved in the Activities programme after school, and some may even be involved in sports training before school.
Students follow a weekly timetable consisting of 20 blocks of 75 or 80 minutes, with four blocks per day. English and Humanities is taught as a combined course in Grade 6, while Drama and Visual Arts, and Food and Nutrition and SEED are offered as half-yearly (semester) courses each year.
- Outdoor Education
- Personal and Social Education
- Service and Sustainable Development
- English or English as an Additional Language
- Languages other than English
- Social and Environmental Entrepreneurship (SEED)
- Physical Education
- Design and Technology
- Food Technology
- Life Skills
- Study Skills (Learning Support)
English prepares students to meet the demands of a life filled with diverse literacy challenges. Students build their skills for reading, writing, speaking and listening with an emphasis on literacy as a mechanism for building understanding.
All English classrooms have their own library of Young Adult texts and our school has a strong culture of reading and an expectation that students are reading regularly at home.
Instruction uses a ‘Workshop’ pedagogical model based on our Learning Principles and the UWCSEA English academic curriculum. Within the ‘Workshop’ model, there is a strong emphasis is on students working collaboratively to understand their progress and that of their learning partners.
Students receive feedback on their skills as readers, writers, speakers and listeners. Formative feedback comes mostly through conferences during class where a teacher works with an individual or group of students to assess learning and provide targeted teaching. Regular, informal check-ins throughout the year allow teachers to monitor student progress and support learning ahead of more formal summative assessments.
The English programme supports students to develop autonomy and agency as learners. Students develop a solid foundation in the key academic skills necessary for future success.
English as an Additional Language
Depending on their level of English, a number of students take English as an Additional Languages classes instead of English.
Middle School EAL supports students in developing the academic and social language skills that they need to succeed across the curriculum. EAL provides instruction in reading, writing, listening and speaking, to ensure that students receive explicit instruction to be successful in all facets of school life.
As EAL is a support class, students do not receive a grade as in other classes, but instead their oral language development is tracked using the Bonnie Campbell Hill Listening and Speaking Continuum. Formative assessment of vocabulary, language skills, and communicative competence takes place regularly and guides instruction and next steps for learning.
Curriculum work and homework are supported in the EAL classroom. Students are encouraged to share homework and to bring projects or assignments into the classroom. The EAL teacher is in regular contact with subject teachers to provide support in the EAL classroom, where students may need scaffolded or differentiated lessons to access specific lessons, assessments, or tasks.
The Mathematics programme seeks to build on and develop student knowledge and skills learned in Primary School largely through an inquiry-based curriculum. The programme is designed to challenge students to think critically. It is also preparing them for the challenges ahead as they transition to High School.
In Grade 6, students develop a strong foundation moving into algebraic concepts.
In Grade 7, students continue to develop their algebra and critical thinking skills.
In Grade 8, students continue to develop concepts in linear algebra, linear systems, and geometry.
Students are given every opportunity to extend their knowledge and are encouraged to challenge themselves through a variety of assessment tasks including unit tests, quizzes, snapshots, exit tickets, presentations, in-class investigations and research. Students receive regular feedback from both formative and summative assessment tasks in order to monitor and guide their learning.
We strive to meet the needs of our diverse student population through a differentiated programme of instruction. Students are offered the opportunity to challenge themselves at levels that match their readiness within each topic area of study.
Most students take a Language other than English as a part of their timetabled lessons:
Foreign and First language courses
Students are placed in a range of beginner, continuation and advanced language programmes based on their level of attainment:
- Grade 6: Chinese (beginner/continuation/extended/advanced), French (beginner/continuation), Spanish (beginner/continuation), EAL
- Grade 7: Chinese (continuation/extended/advanced), French (beginner/continuation), Spanish (continuation), EAL
- Grade 8: Chinese (continuation/extended/advanced), French (continuation), Spanish (beginner/continuation), EAL
Home languages (mother tongue)
These classes are taught after school by a qualified teacher who uses UWCSEA literacy curriculum to inform the lessons. These classes are taught in small groups at additional cost; languages are available subject to demand.
A small number of students who require additional support in Study Skills have these classes instead of a Language other than English class.
This course empowers students to contribute to a peaceful and sustainable future by providing them with an understanding of sustainability, systems thinking, and a change-making process through entrepreneurship. This three-year course allows students to extend their understanding of the world in both a global and local context, while developing the skills and qualities of the UWCSEA profile with a particular focus on commitment to care.
Humanities provides students with meaningful and authentic ways to engage with the world around them. Our approach is concept-based and interdisciplinary as we explore the multi-faceted dimensions of History, Geography, and Economics.
Our underlying approach to the Humanities is to create rich learning environments that leverage student interest in course content by emphasising critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and curiosity. The core of what we do lies in getting students to understand the complexity of the world we live in through their individual place, space, and time, so that they might meaningfully begin to engage with the challenges of the 21st century.
A clean thread that runs through our work from Grades 6–8 is the UWCSEA Learner Profile and the power of words and actions as we seek to better understand and replicate those brave and courageous children, men, and women that dared to make this world a better place.
In Grade 6, English and Humanities are taught as an integrated course by one teacher. Reading, writing, speaking and listening skills are woven through Humanities units with English skills sometimes taught through independent Reading or Writing units but often taught through reading or writing about Humanities content (refer to our Curriculum Guide for details).
The Science programme uses a multi-dimensional approach that integrates core science concepts with investigation and communication skills taught under the umbrella of eight overarching Science standards. Science concepts build coherently from Grade 6 to 8 with overlapping units covering Biology, Physics, and Chemistry.
The programme is designed with complete integration of skills and concepts. Pairing practice with content gives the learning context and allows students to develop a deeper understanding of the concepts while developing key skills.
Assessment is through a varied range of tasks comprising unit tests, snapshots, projects and investigations involving one or all of the following assessment areas: design/planning, measuring and recording, data manipulation and conclusion and evaluation. Students receive regular feedback from both peers and teachers for assessment tasks in order to guide their learning.
Both Drama and Visual Arts are offered as semester courses. Students will have two 80-minute blocks per week of Drama for half of the school year and of Visual Arts for the other half of the year. Music is offered once a week and is a year-long course. The Middle School Arts programme is designed to expose students to a variety of experiences while developing fundamental skills in each subject.
Drama in the Middle School is designed to develop student ability in the following areas:
- creation of Drama
- analysis and Evaluation of Drama
- presentation of Drama
All Middle School Drama courses are improvisation-based, both planned and rehearsed. The units aim to expose students to many forms of stimuli and encourage them to explore a range of theatrical and dramatic conventions to heighten their development as a performer.
All students are encouraged to work cooperatively and meaningfully with others and to respond and evaluate their own work. The skills that form the basis of this course are refined and developed in future Drama and Theatre units.
The Music programme is divided into three key areas: the academic curriculum, the ensemble programme and the Instrumental Teaching Programme (ITP).
The ensemble programme offers many different opportunities for specialist and non-specialist musicians. Currently, it includes the following Middle School groups: MS Symphony Orchestra, MS Jazz Band, Caribe Samba Band, Karibu Marimba Express, Rock School and the MS Vocal Project. There are also a plethora of opportunities for students to participate in Chamber Ensemble group work.
While our Instrumental Teaching Programme offers instrumental or voice lessons on a one-to-one basis for students who want to pursue music as an interest, the academic curriculum which all students engage in focuses on key aspects of making and understanding music in practical music-making lessons.
The class curriculum divides into units of work that take approximately 6–8 weeks each. At the end of each unit of work, students are assessed and given an attainment level to reflect their understanding of the concepts studied. There are three strands that are reported on throughout the year: Exploring Music in Context, Composing Music, and Performing Music. Students are regularly asked to be involved in their own assessment, reflecting on their progress and development.
Throughout Middle School, in Visual Arts, students will have experiences in these four main learning domains:
- Exploring Visual Arts in Context
- Understanding how cultural perspectives shape Art
- Creating Visual Art
- Analysing and interpreting Art
Throughout the year we arrange for professional artists from around the world to work with our students. This provides a unique experience for students to see first hand how artists work in the studio and manage their art practice. Students make connections with what they are learning in Art and how it relates to the real world. They learn specific techniques and skills and have the opportunity to collaborate with a practicing artist.
Students are assessed on their knowledge and understanding, reflective and analytical written work, planning, design development and practical work. Feedback and assessment of their sketchbook, digital portfolio and studio work is ongoing and includes teacher feedback, peer and self assessment.
Physical activity touches everyone’s life to some degree. The advantages of involvement in such an activity are many and varied. Health, social, mental and physical benefits can all be associated with active participation at a range of levels.
The development of teamwork, leadership and organisational skills are central to this, as is establishing a pure sense of fun from being actively involved in a sport. The department recognises the many benefits associated with participation in a physical activity and tries to cover all interest groups. By offering opportunities at a variety of levels, we aim to bring these benefits to all our students.
The Physical Education programme in the Middle School has three major objectives:
- regular participation in physical activity that enhances wellbeing
- the development of movement competency and confidence through the acquisition and transfer of motor skills and movement concepts
- the awareness that responsible behaviour during physical activity creates safe and respectful environments for self and others
To gain a greater depth of knowledge and skills development, students will sometimes repeat certain sports throughout the Middle School programme to consolidate prior learning and achieve a higher level of performance. Students have PE for two 80-minute blocks every week.
The skills gained in PE can be extended by those students who wish to pursue individual sport through the recreational, development or representative sports offered in the after school Activities programme. Heightened levels of confidence and self-esteem are seen through this additional participation, as is focusing on realistic targets.
The study of Design and Technology is not solely the acquisition of skills and process, it is also about learning how to adapt to new experiences and being able to approach problems with the appropriate skills and techniques.
Design and Technology encompasses the creative aspects of the arts, humanities and aesthetics. At the same time it is a living embodiment of mathematical and scientific theory.
At UWCSEA, the subject is dynamic, challenging, an integral part of the learners’ development and central to our approach to lifelong learning. It requires learners to develop, question and continually apply the skills involved in inventing, creating, prototyping, testing, modifying and evaluating. These skills and techniques can then be transferred to other areas of the Middle School curriculum.
The design thinking process, a framework for critical and analytical thought, is at the core of the programme and it is expected that learners will use this process in both practical and investigative work.
The subject’s practical nature involves learners in developing their own personal skills and understanding and provides the opportunity to enable them to apply these to a wide range of areas, including systems and control, computer aided design, coding and manufacture. It also develops learners in the use of equipment and materials which include graphic media, construction materials (wood, metal and plastics) and food.
All Design and Technology activities are challenging and stimulating in order to foster enjoyment, inquiry, excitement and satisfaction from the learning experiences. The department has high expectations and we are committed to encouraging the production of excellent standards of work from all our students, preparing them to be discriminating and informed participants in tomorrow’s rapidly changing technological setting
In Design and Technology there is an emphasis on the journey of learning rather than the aesthetic value of the product outcome. Throughout the year students are assessed on their skills and conceptual understandings relating to the design thinking process, high quality physical artifacts and the technical skills required to produce them come second to the values we place on student reasoning.
Each student is given a design journal at the beginning of each year where the students record their learning and design decisions. Work to be formally assessed is submitted through the school’s Online Learning Platform.
Food and Nutrition reaches beyond the classroom, as it is designed to teach students how to incorporate concepts of nutrition into their everyday lives.
It is crucial that students are aware of the importance of maintaining a balanced diet from a young age, as it is beneficial for their growth and development; a poor diet, on the other hand, can have adverse effects on their health. Instilling proper nutrition trends into students’ daily routines will help create a better quality of life for them. Teaching them healthy eating habits now will perpetuate a healthy lifestyle for them and put them on an appropriate path to lasting wellness.
Students are assessed regularly on their ability to demonstrate the skills, processes and knowledge in the practical cooking lessons.
Life Skills is a part of Middle School Personal and Social Education (PSE), and PSE is an integral part of life at UWCSEA. The purpose of Life Skills is to enable our students to become confident, proactive, and independent young people who are inspired by the UWC mission.
The Life Skills course aims to provide students with a variety of opportunities to learn about the following:
- identifying personal strengths and reflection on areas for development
- developing a greater sense of self
- attaining relationship building skills with peers and adults
- learning to manage and maintain a network of positive relationships
- managing stress and anxiety
- being more informed when making choices
A small number of students who require additional support in Study Skills have these classes instead of a Language other than English class.
Middle School Learning Support aims to develop self-advocacy and goal-setting skills for identified students with learning differences. It includes small group curriculum support with a focus on literacy. Difficulties in Mathematics are identified and supported through a Small Group Mathematics programme taught by the Mathematics Department.
The Learning Support teachers also offer executive functioning coaching sessions for students with identified difficulties. Support with differentiation and scaffolding of the curriculum is provided by Learning Support teachers as they work alongside subject teachers.
- Arts and Performance
- Create and Innovate
- Home Languages
- Learn and Lead
- Mind Matters
- Dragon Sports
- Wellness for Life
The East Campus ensemble programme offers many different opportunities for specialist and non-specialist Middle School musicians, including the Middle School Chamber Ensemble, Jazz Band and Orchestra, the Caribe Samba Band, Karibu Marimba Express and Vocal Project. The Middle School ensembles perform in two featured concerts during the year.
The Instrumental Teaching Programme offers access to individual and small group vocal and music lessons on a number of instruments at an additional cost. Instrument hire is available.
Performance opportunities are offered as part of the activities programme, and Middle School students are invited to audition for two drama productions during the year, which are supported by our Drama and Theatre Teachers. In addition, students have the opportunity to perform in the Elements Dance Showcase featuring genres such as Contemporary, Hip Hop, Jazz, Rock and Roll and Asian dance forms.
Students also have many opportunities to develop interests in specialisations such as ceramics or photography in visual arts as part of the activities programme.
The offerings of clubs and special interests are varied and have included activities such as chess, engineering, masterchef, yearbook and production of a literary magazine. Many of these activities give the students access to the specialist teaching staff and facilities such as Art rooms, Changemakers and Sustainability spaces and the Design and Technology classroom facilities that support the academic programme in the Middle and High School.
Home languages (mother tongue) classes are taught after school by a qualified teacher who uses UWCSEA literacy curriculum to inform the lessons. These classes are taught in small groups at additional cost; languages are available subject to demand.
Students have ample opportunity to develop leadership skills through participation in groups such as MS Student Leadership (Student Council), Model United Nations, the Service Executive Committee, Techxperts and the organising committee for the TECHLife student-led conference.
Other leadership activities are available including coaching younger sports teams or working with Primary School students.
We enter teams in all sports offered by the Athletic Conference of Singapore International Schools (ACSIS) as well as a number of other competitions in Singapore and the region.
The representative sports available to Middle School students include: badminton, basketball, cricket (boys), cross country, football, gymnastics, netball (girls), rugby (boys), sailing, softball, swimming, tennis, touch rugby (girls), track and field and volleyball.
All our representative sports are offered to students who would like to participate with the goal of enjoyment and skill development rather than competition. A number of other recreational and development sports, such as golf, martial arts, rock climbing, aerial gymnastics, fitness and health and ultimate (frisbee), are also offered for students.
In addition to sport, students have a range of opportunities that will help them develop a balanced lifestyle to support holistic wellness in the future. These have included activities such as yoga, mindfulness, gardening, meditation, and circus skills to name a few.
In the past the Middle School expeditions have been as follows:
- Grade 6 go on a five-day multi-activity expedition to Pulau Tioman in Malaysia
- Grade 7 complete a one-star kayak training certificate in Singapore before travelling to Pulau Sibu in Malaysia for a five-day kayaking trip
- Grade 8 students spend two weeks in Chiang Mai, Thailand; one week undertaking adventure activities such as white-water rafting and hiking, and the other completing curriculum-based field activities
The activities and venues are thoroughly checked and annually reviewed to ensure safety of all participants. These overseas trips will be reviewed for the 2021/2022 academic year based on the information available at the time the annual outdoor education plan is completed.
Because families join UWCSEA at different times in the school year, the class expeditions are an additional cost and are billed at the time the students travel.
In the 2020/2021 year optional trips will not run, and we will review the programme for the 2021/2022 academic year based on the information available.
Middle School students have previously had opportunities to participate in optional trips that are linked to a number of elements in the learning programme during school holidays. These trips are grouped under the categories of:
- adventure trips, such as the annual New Zealand, Southern Africa or Japan (skiing) trips
- service trips to Cambodia, Indonesia, India, Kenya, Malaysia, Nepal and Vietnam; many of these are family trips where students and parents travel with UWCSEA staff to visit our NGO partners in these countries
- curriculum enrichment, such as trips to China, Taiwan, France or Spain for students of Chinese, French or Spanish language
- Environmental Initiatives (College Service)
- Local Singapore Service
- Global Concerns and Focus Groups
- Optional trips
Based on the campus, these projects fall into three categories: Conscious Consumption, Conservation, and Permaculture. The initiatives provide our students an opportunity to create deep understanding using real life situations as they consider ways to protect, connect and nurture our planet.
As part of their PSE programme, students contribute to campus-based projects that have a positive environmental impact, such as our whole school composting initiative. Our students take an active part in our campus waste processing cycle, including data collection, systems mapping and hands on activities such as composting and recycling.
Our after school programme takes advantage of the use of our many green spaces on campus. Students can take part in a range of programs and learn about many aspects of Singapore’s natural environment. Such as education on at risk endemic plant species in Singapore to organic cultivation and companion planting. Teacher facilitators support students to connect with nature in new and exciting ways, fostering a better understanding of the important reasons to protect our planet’s natural flora and fauna.
Students work with Singapore-based Voluntary Welfare Organisations or Singapore MOE schools to identify, understand and investigate where they can informed action to contribute to their community. These opportunities are offered through our SEED classes within the school timetable, as well as through service activities after school. This service fosters empathy and helps students to recognise that part of being human is seeking opportunities to put yourself aside in the service of others.
Working with partners both on and off campus, students have opportunities to connect with young children, elderly and people of varied abilities. Activities include paired reading with students from neighbouring primary schools or welcoming elderly clients from our partner VWO's to campus.
Global Concerns and Focus Groups have links with grassroots NGOs, most usually in Asia but also in Singapore and further afield. These groups meet weekly at lunchtimes and provide an opportunity for students to both learn about and to take action to support their chosen cause. Students sign up for a full year, so as to have time to develop an in-depth understanding of the issues facing our partner organisations. Examples of Global Concerns groups supported by Middle School students include:
- Rainforest Restoration Project
- Gili Eco Trust Global Concern group
Our programme in the Middle School offers a number of avenues for our students to develop leadership skills within their areas of interest. Supported by teacher facilitators, students build their capacity as leaders by planning and speaking in assemblies, supporting service events throughout the year, attending conferences and taking part in awareness campaigns that speak to the Middle School peers. LEAP Leadership (Leaders in Environment and Protection) is one such group which supports the establishment of environmental initiatives.
Middle School students interested in joining a leadership group must apply and take part in a selection process.
In the past a number of optional service trips have allowed students (and in some cases families) unparalleled opportunities to further their understanding of the challenges faced by our NGO partners and to take action in support of creating a better future. Our trips have run on a three-year rotation basis to visit our partners in Cambodia, Vietnam, Kenya, Nepal, India and Indonesia.