THE Corner Inlet district’s four primary schools and Foster Secondary College returned for the 2020 school year on Wednesday January 29, with most reporting an increase in their enrolments.
Foster Secondary College recorded the highest jump, with 290 students, including 45 Year Sevens, assembling on Wednesday January 29, 10 more than 2019’s total of 280 students.
Toora and District Primary School saw 2020 start with 45 students, with 11 of those new Preps, in comparison to the 2019 enrolment of 40 students.
Fish Creek and District also gained students, with 123 children including 16 Preps arriving before the bell on Wednesday, three more than 2019’s year-end total of 120 students. Fish Creek began 2019 with 110 students and added 10 more during the course of the year.
Welshpool and District Primary School’s enrolment has remained steady, with 30 students including 6 Preps in 2020, the same total as in 2019.
Only Foster Primary School showed a small decrease, with 217 students including 35 Preps this year, three less than the 220 students who attended the school in 2019.
FOSTER SECONDARY COLLEGE
Foster Secondary College principal Matt McPhee said the overall student population had grown because of the arrival of new families into the local area, from Melbourne, and from New Zealand and Thailand.
The college has also attracted students from other South Gippsland region secondary schools this year.
“We warmly welcome all of our new students and their families, especially our 45 Year Sevens and our international students, and I know they all will bring something unique and valuable into our school,” he said.
“As well as the new students, we have six new staff members, too, with two new graduates, a former student turned teacher and a trainee teacher among them.
“The graduates are Emma Enticott who teaches English, and Kyle Materia of Leongatha whose subject is maths.
“Past college student Kiarna Smith comes to us from teaching at Fish Creek and District Primary School as a generalist teacher and our junior school assistant co-ordinator,” Mr McPhee said.
“Mark Dows of Yarram has joined us as our Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL) technology teacher, and Kasey Thorson has come to Foster as a trainee after finishing at Leongatha Secondary College at last year,” he said.
“This is Kasey’s first year out of school, and she will be part of the physical education team as well as being a support to the teaching staff.
“The sixth new staff member is our careers counsellor Roxy Hurst, who will be working with students, arranging work placements and experience and VCAL placements and providing advice and encouragement,” Mr McPhee said.
“This is the first time we’ve had a full-time dedicated careers counsellor, and Ms Hurst’s knowledge and experience will be a huge resource and an asset to the college.”
Mr McPhee said the start of 2020 has seen “a complete leadership reshuffle, with staff members now performing different roles within the college.
“A new position has also been created and Mark Tudor has been appointed as the college’s data analyst,” he said.
“There is so much education data available nowadays and the college needs a specialised member of staff to receive, examine and curate the data.
“Mr Tudor and I attended a Harvard University Data Wise course at the Bastow Institute in Melbourne during the summer holidays,” Mr McPhee said.
“We agreed that it was probably the best professional development we had ever done as it showed us how important current data is to best teacher practice, and also gave us a really clear process to follow.”
This year Foster Secondary College will receive its four-yearly school review during Term One.
Mr McPhee said the preparation of the necessary school review paperwork, which was lodged with Education and Training Victoria at the end of last year, had indicated that “the college is in a very good place.
“Our 2019 Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) results were spectacular, and they were higher than those of local private schools and equal to those achieved by metropolitan schools such as Brighton Secondary College and Camberwell High School,” he said.
“It can be more difficult for smaller schools with smaller staffs to get such good pass rates than it is for schools with larger numbers of students and teachers, but our college has consistently shown that it can be done.
“I think the district can be proud that there is such a high-performance school right here in Foster,” Mr McPhee said.
“This year we have 47 VCE students, which is nearly double the number the college had in 2019, and a huge amount of work has been done to ensure each student is taking the right path and the right subjects for them,” he said.
“The staff have been preparing the students, so they understand the high expectations of VCE and what the best practice is in regard to effective study routines and making sure their note-taking is up to scratch.
“We’ve been encouraging all of our VCE students to acknowledge that their individual learning and review processes must be as effective as those employed by the highest-performing students,” Mr McPhee said.
“On the first day back, I made a half-hour presentation to all students, starting with a narrative of the big picture, of what the true purpose of the college is, rather than just talking about lockers and bells.
“The whole idea of coming to school is for students to learn, and for every student to adapt to the culture of the school and be easy to teach,” he said.
“The demands on teachers get greater every year and my role as principal is to protect staff from that deluge and to sort out what’s important to enable staff to work on and improve their teaching practice,” Mr McPhee said.
“Teachers can then focus on the things that matter and what’s important to their students.”