ACSA Papers
Principles of Middle Schooling


The Middle Years of schooling should provide opportunities for all young adolescents to learn and grow in ways that acknowledge and respect this special phase in their development.

Effective Middle Schooling practices acknowledge students needs:

  • Identity
    Exploring how individual and group identities are shaped by social and cultural groups.
  • Relationships
    Developing productive and affirming relationships with adults and peers in an environment that respects difference and diversity.
  • Purpose
    Having opportunities to negotiate learning that is useful now, as well as in the future.
  • Empowerment
    Viewing the world critically and acting independently, cooperatively and responsively.
  • Success
    Having multiple opportunities to learn valued knowledge and skills as well as the opportunity to use talents and expertise that students bring to the learning environment.
  • Rigour
    Taking on realistic learning challenges in an environment characterised by high expectations and constructive and honest feedback.
  • Safety
    Learning in a safe, caring and stimulating environment that addresses issues of discrimination and harassment.

Effective Middle Schooling curriculum is:

  • Learner-centred
    Coherent curriculum is focused on the identified needs, interests and concerns of students, and emphasises self-directed and co-constructed learning.
  • Collaboratively-organised
    Teams of teachers, who know and understand their students well, employ powerful pedagogical strategies to challenge and extend students within a supportive environment.
  • Outcome-based
    Progress and achievement are recorded continuously in relation to explicit statements of what each student is expected to know and be able to do.
  • Flexibly-constructed
    Arrangements are responsive to local needs and circumstances, and reflect creative use of time, space and other resources.
  • Ethically-aware
    Justice, care, respect and a concern for the needs of others are reflected in the every-day practice of students, teachers and administrators.
  • Community-oriented
    Parents and representatives from other community institutions and organisations beyond the school are involved in productive partnerships.
  • Adequately-resourced
    Experienced teachers and support staff are supported by high quality facilities, technology, equipment and materials.
  • Strategically-linked
    The Middle Years of schooling, although a discrete phase within the K-12 continuum, is intrinsically connected to the early and later years.

These principles were derived from State, Territory and National forums conducted during 1996-1997 as part of the National Middle Schooling Project.