WITH a student population of fewer than 300 students, South Gippsland Secondary College, situated in Foster and serving the wider Corner Inlet area, is not a big school. So it is particularly impressive to read the latest data on the My School website, which carries detailed data on every school in Australia and shows the local public high school punching far above its weight in terms of student achievement.
“There’s some incredible data there,” said college principal Matt McPhee, fairly bursting with pride. “I’d like to share the good news with the wider community.”
For a start, Mr McPhee singled out the data showing the percentage of Year 12 students accepted into university courses. Comparing the full range of South Gippsland schools (public and private), SGSC came out well ahead in 2014. With percentages ranging from 26 to 59, SGSC was at the top, 59 per cent of the 2014 cohort securing a place at university. The same high percentage of SGSC students got into university the next year, with 100 per cent of the students who applied for a place successful in their bid.
“Of the students who didn’t go to university, all achieved their chosen pathways -TAFE, private college, apprenticeships or employment,” added their delighted principal.
“I put this down to the personalised one-on-one approach to career counselling and career planning embedded in the curriculum at South Gippsland Secondary from junior level upwards.”
Another factor, suggested Mr McPhee, is the recent addition to the college of a full-time student welfare co-ordinator who works on student engagement and wellbeing.
“We might be little, with only 285 students at present, but we can achieve a lot,” said Mr McPhee. “I see us as a boutique school that offers a personalised service.”
The latest NAPLAN results are also pleasing. The 2015 statistics show SGSC topping the public schools across Gippsland and even surpassing the one private school in the local district, particularly in numeracy, where SGSC is way ahead, but also in literacy.
“I want to stress that it is not a competition, but I want the local community to realise the value adding that goes on at this school,” said Mr McPhee. “It really is above and beyond what a lot of schools are achieving.”
He said the teaching staff at SGSC work really hard to do their best by their students. “Our focus is on building teaching practice excellence.”
Mr McPhee said he was well aware that NAPLAN figures tend to bounce around between one year and the next. “But our trend over time is really strong,” he concluded.