Schools break records

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Schools break records

Record breaker: Wonthaggi Secondary College’s Dudley Campus was a sea of big smiles and happy faces, with a record intake of some 230 Year 7 students.

A RECORD number of Year 7 students have enrolled at Wonthaggi Secondary College this year.
More than 230 students were welcomed to their first year of secondary school on Friday. Principal Garry Dennis described it as the school’s biggest intake.
Leongatha’s Mary MacKillop College is experiencing a Year 7 boom too. A waiting list has been introduced for the first time in the school’s 25 year history.
The enrolments at Wonthaggi are being seen as a positive for several reasons: it will underscore the need for a new senior school campus and help to change the demographic of Bass Coast Shire, which has an overload of older residents.
As those students and the large Year 7 classes ahead of them move through the college, they will place enormous strain on the senior campus, which has been bursting at the seams for some time. Some buildings date to the 1920s.
A new campus is at the crux of an application before the State Government for funding for a Bass Coast Education Precinct. A business case and feasibility study have been prepared.
There are six stages to the precinct’s development, with the fifth being construction. It is stage two of the process that is before the bureaucrats. Precinct supporters hope funding will come in the May State budget.
The precinct – and the secondary college itself – have the support of acting regional education director, Karen Cain.
She said yesterday she was “very pleased” Wonthaggi Secondary College was attracting that number of Year 7 students.
“It’s wonderful in terms of the community and parents choosing Wonthaggi Secondary College.”
Ms Cain said the regional office supported the precinct.
So does Bass MLA Ken Smith, who said yesterday he believed land for the precinct in McKenzie Street, Wonthaggi, had now been transferred to the Education Department. Bass Coast Specialist School is already on the site.
Mary MacKillop College principal Michael Delaney said a total of 108 Year 7 students have been divided into four classes. He said the school had no room for more than that.
Mr Delaney keeps a close eye on the population of feeder schools and said this year represented “a bulge”.
Bass Coast Council CEO Allan Bawden, has pushed the education precinct idea for Wonthaggi from the beginning, explaining the shire desperately needed to increase its percentage of university educated citizens from 9.9 to closer to 50. He said yesterday afternoon the large Year 7 intake would help encourage
the precinct.
And, he added, it reflected an influx of younger families who were helping change the shire’s demographic. And they’re not just coming because of desalination plant construction.
“Twenty-nine per cent of our population is aged over 60 compared with the state average of 17 per cent.”
Mr Bawden said schools are not the only facilities experiencing record numbers. Maternal and child health centres are too.
“It’s a good sign that we are now seeing family groups coming in to pursue growth and jobs.”
The shire has a population of just under 30,000 and Mr Bawden said it is growing at around two-and-a-half per cent a year. A federal census is due later this year and that will confirm a current number.
Mr Dennis told The Star his private hope was that the new school would be underway in three years.
“But, with all the disaster funds needed for the floods, there are greater needs.
“Ideally we will have a new school and in 10 years, we may have a Year 7 to 10 campus built just outside San Remo on land ear-marked for this development near the Anderson roundabout.
“But the government won’t look at this until student numbers from Phillip Island to Wonthaggi reach the 400 mark and currently we have 300 students coming from the island.”

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Posted by on Feb 8 2011. Filed under Community, Featured, News. 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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