A plan to turn around Ballarat Secondary College results with high expectations, self belief, a safe learning environment and best-practice teaching methods has seen the school’s VCE results draw level and surpass some Melbourne private schools.
Ballarat Secondary College VCE results are among the most improved in the state over the past two years, with an average VCE study score of 27, up from 22 just two years ago, according to the Good Schools Guide.
Principal Rick Gervasoni said he arrived with a plan when he was appointed principal of the school two years ago.
“We have really drawn a line in the sand about having high expectations of our students, and have communicated to them very strongly that we believe they can be successful and support them,” he said.
“There’s probably been a lack of confidence in the past, and we’ve tried to make the culture shift to having high expectations about learning and outcomes and pathways to future careers, setting high goals and achieving them.”
Ballarat Secondary College has about 180 students completing VCE in year 11 and 12, spread across two campuses at Mount Rowan and Woodmans Hill.
A focus on exam preparation was also key, as was establishing a safe and orderly learning environment to allow students to focus clearly on their learning.
”One thing we have done especially for VCE is have a really strong focus on past VCE exams and revision. Students do revision of their work outside of class, and we follow that up with past exam paper and completing past exam papers.”
“We have also had a tutoring program in place with students from Federation University and the University of Melbourne helping our senior students.”
Mr Gervasoni said the school community had supported the culture change at the school, which included new uniforms and research-based teaching practices, to encourage and support student learning.
Phoenix P-12 Community College also recorded an average study score of 27, consistent with previous years, with Ballarat High recording a 28.
Good Education Group’s chief executive Chris Lester said typically the median VCE scores remained consistent year on year at most schools. Ballarat Secondary College’s scores improved more than 20 per cent over two years.
The Good Schools Guide 2018 showed Ballarat Clarendon College had the highest percentage of 40+ study scores of all schools in Ballarat, placing it among the 10 in the state, with Loreto College, Ballarat Grammar, St Patrick’s College and Ballarat High School rounding out Ballarat’s top five..