First and foremost Muirden Senior College, the Board as well as all staff would like to congratulate all 2020 graduates on their achievements. All students should be proud of what they achieved in 2020, especially because of the pandemic and subsequent lockdown, and I along with my colleagues wish you all the best for the future.
Success at Muirden is not gauged solely on the ATAR achieved but on an individual level, especially as all students are encouraged to finish their school year. The College’s underlying philosophy is that success is measured purely on a specific individual basis, this means that the College takes in pride in all of its students’ achievements, particularly as we appreciate that all students learn differently, and have their own specific needs. Consequently there are countless success stories embedded within the Class of 2020 students’ achievements.
As the COVID19 pandemic has prevented many students from travelling or taking a gap year, immediate entry to tertiary studies is more of a pattern this year. Most students had already received an offer from Universities based on their year 11 results. They did so as a direct result of the pandemic. Students however still had to gain their SACE and the inclusion of an ATAR reinforced the offer. On this note 75% of students who applied for University, either here or interstate, received their first choice 18% received an offer, and others have pursued other options, such as apprenticeships, or a career in creative arts.
In order to be accepting of all students, and a successful educator, Muirden Senior College treats all students as individuals. By allowing students to grow at their own pace we help them to make the transition from school to the outside world with confidence. We acknowledge that each student learns differently. That each student has their own unique ‘story’. That each student has undertaken a different educational journey. The teachers at Muirden pride themselves on knowing all of their students as individuals, and on understanding how they learn and engage with their studies.
Education, even prior to the pandemic, has undergone significant changes and this is reflected in the way that the SACE is taught and the way that Universities and other tertiary institutions gauge the success of graduates. There is an increasingly flexible approach by both tertiary institutions and the SACE Board in how to gauge student success. For example, the SACE Board has launched a ‘Prescient’ initiative which once implemented will look beyond the ATAR as a means to measure a student’s accomplishment. However, having said this, it is still apparent that students need to obtain their SACE with an ATAR even if they intend to embark on an apprenticeship. This is a direct result of both the job market and further education becoming increasingly competitive. Because of its unique nature the College has been able to actively respond to these changes.
One of the keys to our student’s success is the way in which student absences, due to health and/or other issues, are dealt with. The key to enabling a student to catch up, or keep up, with their studies when absent for an extended period of time is communication. This can occur either through phone calls, emails, or regularly checking the College’s Moodle. We understand that the circumstances surrounding student absences differ and that keeping up solely by reviewing class activities, notes, and assessment on the Moodle may not be enough. Consequently, when appropriate, teachers will contact students working with them one on one, albeit remotely. If a student’s absence is unexplained their parents are immediately notified via a phone call from the office. These strategies are reflective of the College’s key philosophy that we will never give up on a student and will support all students equally, enabling them to not only successfully complete their SACE but also achieve an ATAR.
The best means to measure success is the eagerness with which students engage with their future, the confidence they feel as they explore multiple future opportunities. Past students’ visits are always welcome and this year many students have returned to visit their former teachers and the College which they say they miss and gave them the strength to engage with and be proactive in their future. Past students also state that they feel privileged to have attended the college. Parents as well have thanked the College for the care that has been taken in helping their child through the SACE, while appreciating them as individuals. We have received thanks for the high quality of our teaching, for allowing students to “restart” their education”. Some students have written that the time they have spent at Muirden will be “cherished” and that the attitude of teachers towards students is “unique and nurturing”. They have also commented on what a “special relaxing place” Muirden is, with one student going on to describe it as “the best school in the world”. From their cards, notes, letters and emails it is clear that because of the care given to them the College has made a difference in their lives and enabled them to graduate and move on with their lives.
Accordingly when reviewing not only last year but previous years as well, and considering individual students stories and pathways it is easy to be proud of the role the College has made to students development. It is no cause for complacency however, and to prevent this the College does and will continue to renew its teaching and administrative practices.