School drop-out

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School drop-out

By Chris Brown
A DRAMATIC drop in student numbers at Leongatha Secondary College has been put down to changing demographics and greater competition.
A Star investigation has revealed there are 400 less students at Leongatha Secondary College this year than in 1999.
During the same period, Wonthaggi Secondary College grew by 230 students.
According to LSC, it is not the case that there is anything wrong with the education offered on the Nerrena Road site.
Instead, changing demographics have conspired to reduce the number of teenagers in the surrounding area.
It’s likely an ageing population, a declining birthrate and farm consolidation have all contributed to the school student population drop.  
About 530 students began at the college this year compared to 930 just over a decade ago.
Mirboo North Secondary College was the only other school to record a large decrease in student numbers.
They dropped by almost 100, from 450 to 355, over the 11 year period.
Leongatha’s Mary MacKillop Catholic Regional College had about 30 less students starting this year than in 1999.
Schools to record increases were South Coast Christian College (by about 10 students), Korumburra Secondary College (about 50), Newhaven College (about 115) and Wonthaggi Secondary College.
South Gippsland Secondary College at Foster began the 2010 school year with the same number of students as in 1999.
Brett Windsor has been principal of Leongatha Secondary College for almost eight months.
He said the number of available students has dropped and there’s more competition in the town.
“The primary school numbers are going up now and that will hopefully lead to an increase in our numbers,” Mr Windsor said.
The college is working to maximise its ability to attract students from feeder schools.
There is a new leadership position to look after student transition and pathways.
It is intended this person will regularly liaise with the primary school’s Grade 5 and 6 people.
Mr Windsor said the college was also looking at talking to parents of transitioning students more.
“I think the other thing that is going to work in our favour is the precinct development and it will develop close links between Leongatha Primary School and the secondary college,” he said.
Brand new buildings may also help student enrolment.
An attractive and easy-to-use website, a publicity co-ordinator to market the college and an updated uniform are other initiatives.
Year 10 and Year 11 students are likely to be back in uniform by the end of the year.
Less students in senior year levels was also the result of them finding full time employment or starting apprenticeships.
“They’re good outcomes for the kids, and that’s our core business, but not good for the student numbers,” Mr Windsor said.
He said lower numbers influenced the student resource package as schools were paid per student.
“It will have an impact on what we can offer at senior levels though we have still managed to keep a broad curriculum for students at Years 10, 11 and 12,” he said.
Mirboo North Secondary College principal Karen Lanyon said student numbers were up by about five on last year.
Demographic changes were the major reason for the long-term decrease in students.
“There are less young families in the area, so we don’t have the kids coming through the school,” Ms Lanyon said.
Student numbers should remain steady for the next five years.
A large number of Mirboo North students leave at the end of Year 10 or 11 to start apprenticeships.
“I think there is still a lot of confidence in the state school system, because we don’t have a large number of students going to private schools,” Ms Lanyon said.
She began as principal at Mirboo North in term 4 2008.
Less students makes it challenging to provide a broad range of subjects in Years 11 and 12.
Subjects offered at Years 7 to 10 have not been affected by fewer students.
Year 9 students began a new program at Mirboo North designed to increase connectedness to the school and community this year.
Ms Lanyon said the Year 9 program integrates community with academic learning and is a result of feedback from parents, students and teachers.
“The program is innovative, inclusive and challenging and is based on the principles of good teamwork, leadership capacity, problem solving and participation,” she said.
A new Year 10 program is being developed with an academic learning focus to aid the transition to VCE.
Wonthaggi Secondary College principal Garry Dennis said growth in student numbers had been steady over recent years.
Bass Coast Shire is one of the fastest growing regional shires in Victoria.
Large student numbers have allowed the school to offer a comprehensive range of VCE subjects, but it has also created space issues.
The senior campus, near the centre of Wonthaggi, is at capacity.
“We have a number of portables we have brought in and four new classrooms over the last four years and they take up the precious little spare space we had,” Mr Dennis said.
“We’re coping with it, but we are looking at a potential new site a few years down the track for when it can’t cope with the numbers we have.”
At the junior campus a smaller than usual Year 7 cohort has reduced strain on school facilities.
This year there are 175 Year 7s, compared to an expected intake of about 235 in 2011.

Short URL: http://www.thestar.com.au/?p=30

Posted by SiteAdmin on Mar 10 2010. Filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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