At RBAI, we recognise that the transition from Primary School to Secondary School is a significant and formative stage in the social and educational life of each of our pupils. It is important to us that this transition is managed successfully and happily so that they can enjoy and profit from their time at school.
Before Year 8 begins . . .
As part of the Induction Process we have a number of events which we hope assist boys to settle into life at RBAI as quickly and as easily as possible. The Induction Meeting for new pupils and their parents in June is the first event in the Induction Programme. This event provides an opportunity for pupils and their parents to meet staff as well as other new families entering the school community.
For their first day at RBAI Year 8 boys are invited into school the day before the start of the official school year. This gives them the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the campus, meet the other members of their tutor group again and carry out a number of tasks in a setting that is entirely focused on them.
Year 8 Residential
The Residential Trip is without a doubt the highlight of the year for Year 8 boys. On this trip pupils are given the opportunity to engage in a number of adventurous activities through which they develop new friendships, apply skills in team working and communication and experience an environment within which they can identify their own strengths and weaknesses. Further, pupils’ confidence and self-esteem is raised through personal challenge whilst participating in the activities and friendships are developed through shared experiences. Please see the separate report on this year’s trips.
Parents’ Coffee Afternoon
The next event on the Year 8 Induction Programme is the Parents’ Coffee Afternoon, held in November. This occasion provides the boys with an opportunity to tell parents about their residential trip and provides parents with an informal occasion when they can chat to staff and other parents. We hope that parents feel that they can raise any concerns they have at this time and that any questions can be answered.
Year 8 Christmas Dinner
Towards the end of their first term at RBAI, Year 8 boys have the opportunity to join their tutors, Housemasters and Mentors for Christmas dinner in the school Dining Hall. This event is thoroughly enjoyed by all and is a celebration of surviving the first term and a successful start to the boys RBAI careers!
Year 8 Assembly
At regular intervals throughout the first term, the Year 8 meet for their own assembly. This gives the boys an opportunity to meet as a year group and the assemblies focus on issues that are particularly relevant to them. Topics include making friends, bullying and getting involved in the extra-curricular life of the school and each assembly is taken by a different House group. Volunteers from each tutor group work alongside their mentors in bringing a message to the year group as a whole.
The Year 8 Mentoring Scheme
The Year 8 Mentoring Scheme is a form of peer support offered by Year 14 pupils. Put simply, peer support is about making pupils feel safe and supported by other pupils within the school. The mentors work hard throughout the year providing a friendly face and some much needed support for Year 8 boys whilst they adjust to life at RBAI. The senior boys regularly visit Year 8 registration and assembly, they provide a ‘drop-in’ facility at lunchtimes and, as already mentioned, they help to deliver Year 8 assemblies focusing on issues such as settling into life at RBAI, extra-curricular activities and the ‘work hard, play hard’ ethic at RBAI. The Year 14 mentors also assist staff in arranging evening activities on the residential trip much to the delight of the younger boys! The scheme is greatly appreciated by the Year 8 boys and the Year 14 boys are benefiting enormously from the experience and welcome the responsibility involved. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Mentors this year for their outstanding contribution to the Induction Process.
We believe that the initiatives which form the Induction Programme at RBAI assist and support our new pupils and their parents to settle into school life as easily as possible. We strive to ensure that any difficulties are resolved and that the boys in Year 8 quickly begin to feel that special ‘Inst’ identity.
What do Year 8 parents think?
We asked them and this is what they said!
“He particularly enjoyed the residential and the induction afternoon. All staff are to be complimented in making the transition a smooth process”
“My son is enjoying the whole experience so far”
“My son seems very happy. He does his homework without being asked!”
“Induction programme is excellent”
“We feel that our son has settled in well at RBAI – actually quicker than we expected.”
“My son has settled in well – there are a lot of super procedures put in place at INST that have really helped him settle in”
“Our son has settled into school very well and absolutely loves coming in every day”
“So far my son seems really happy at RBAI, which as a mother has made me feel confident that RBAI has been the right school for him to attend”
“Great school – lots of new things to do”
“The holistic approach at RBAI has really been a great confidence builder as the variety of experiences is really helping him find out about himself”
“Is your son well settled? Yes – he loves it!”
“We are delighted that our son has adapted so well to life at RBAI”
“My son is really enjoying school and has made lots of friends”
“My son has settled much better than I expected considering he has no siblings or primary school friends at RBAI”.
Miss K E Reid
Royal Belfast Academical Institution
Acting Year 8 Induction Coordinator