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A year of growth and independence

Why year 9 at Haileybury is a year to remember

NEWS 31 Aug 2022
When students recall some of their favourite moments at Haileybury, many of them recall experiences they shared during their Pre-Senior year.

At Haileybury, Year 9 is a turning point and a time in their school life that students look forward to. Called the Pre-Senior year, it’s the bridge between Middle School and the Senior School and responsibilities of VCE.

The year has been deliberately designed to help students build the skills and confidence they need to be ready to step up to Senior School and to enjoy success in their last years at Haileybury.

“Students are mentored by a dedicated team of teachers who help them develop the skills they need to thrive as they transition to becoming fully fledged senior school students.”
Marco Cudizio, Head of Pre-Senior Science and Coordinator Pre-Senior Options & Expeditions Program.

“They become more accountable for their own learning, they are helped to build their study and organisational skills, and they face challenges that supports students to become more resilient and resourceful.”

A valuable stepping stone

Samone Davidson, Head of Girls Pre-Senior, describes the year as a ‘stepping stone’.

“We push students outside their comfort zone, encouraging them to think for themselves and to try things they wouldn’t normally try. It’s a stepping stone year that grows their maturity so they are ready to handle the more challenging final years of schooling,” she says.

A key and highly anticipated feature of the Pre-Senior year is the Options & Expeditions Program. During the year students spend a total of five weeks away from the familiarity of their Haileybury campus on two exciting excursions around the country.

During the nine-night ‘Option’ trip, students can choose from experiences based on Marine Biology, Drama and the Arts, Sport and Health, Zoology or traversing Uluru to Kakadu. Experiences that are part of these trips range from snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef and swimming alongside giant turtles to seeing the Field of Lights at Uluru and being mentored by expert athletes and artists during workshops in Sydney and Melbourne.

Challenges and growth

The camping-style ‘Expedition’ trip also lasts nine nights however it is more physically and mentally demanding. Living in tents, students spend their days cycling, canoeing, abseiling and hiking and travel to WA, the Northern Territory, or remoter parts of Victoria.

“Students camp with limited amenities and it’s probably the trip that students are most hesitant about. But if there is one trip that is most valuable to their growth, it’s the one they are most nervous about. The greater the level of challenge, the greater the potential for growth,” says Marco.

“I see the buses off on departure day and I remember one student a few years ago who really was not keen on the expedition at all. She made it clear that she was very, very hesitant about what lay ahead. When that student got off the bus at Haileybury ten days later she was beaming and said the trip was the best thing she’d ever done.”

Each trip weaves in an Indigenous Education component, teaching students to understand, acknowledge and appreciate ancient Aboriginal cultures and beliefs.

A fantastic experience

Old Haileyburian, and now a Pre-Senior teacher at Haileybury City, Lucy Scott (OH 2011) experienced the Options & Expeditions program as a student back in 2008. This year, in her role as a Pre-Senior tutor at Haileybury, she accompanied a group of Year 9 girls on the Entertainment option which was a “fantastic experience, enjoyed by all.”

The students travelled to Sydney, did workshops with the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA), saw musicals and theatre shows and learned to navigate Sydney’s busy traffic by bicycle. Later in the year, Lucy will attend the Expedition trip and travel to Eildon where students will hike, camp, canoe and help a sustainable community garden project under the guidance of an Aboriginal Elder.

Then and now

“When I was a student, I chose Equestrian as my option. There were about 15 girls and we drove to central NSW to an amazing racehorse stud that also did dressage and show-jumping. Each day we split into groups and had riding lessons, went for trail rides and learned how to care for the horses,” recalls Lucy.

“I spent time with girls from other campuses and it was a great way to form new connections. I saw that same thing happening when I took students on the trip this year. Many things are the same for the students today and when I was part of the Options and Expeditions program as a student – although mobile phones are a key difference!

“In 2008, mobiles weren’t as prominent in our lives as they are now. Students can’t bring mobiles with them on the Expedition program and so they are cut off from social media, the internet and knowing what their friends are doing.

“Initially they think it’s a big deal but at the end most of them say they have enjoyed that break from being so connected to their mobile,” says Lucy.

“The break away at Options and Expeditions empowers the students to work hard when they’re at school, but then play hard when they’re away,” adds Marco Cudizio.

“The trips provide a significant amount of opportunity for our students to learn and grown – giving them the ability and responsibility to make their own choices so they can develop an increased sense of independence. Why? So that they can ultimately develop the skills and confidence to work through any future challenges they may come across back at School, at home, or beyond the gates of Haileybury.”