First and foremost Muirden Senior College, the Board as well as all staff would like to congratulate all 2021 graduates on their achievements. All students should be proud of what they achieved in 2021, especially because of the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, and I along with my colleagues wish you all the best for the future. We are also extremely pleased that all students received their SACE. So many congratulations are in order.
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 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 2021 students’ achievements.
As the COVID19 pandemic has prevented many students from travelling or taking a gap year immediate entry to tertiary studies is structured extremely differently this year. Many students received an offer from Universities based on their Year 11 results at the end of last year. They however still had to achieve their SACE and complete the required subjects to be able to achieve an ATAR. Of the students who applied for university, either here or interstate, 95% received their first choice while the remaining 5% received an offer in the field of study of interest to them.
In order to be accepting of all students and strive to be 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’ and 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.
The SACE Board has also made significant changes to the Research Project and Muirden Senior College is one on the schools chosen to pilot the new subject in 2022; Activating Identities and Futures. We are also engaged with the SACE Board as they work towards Learner Profiles and different ways of accessing academic potential.
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.
Past students continue to come in and engage with staff and the new cohort. They come in with a confidence and enthusiasm for life and all it has to offer them. Past Students are always welcome and they invariably state that Muirden gave them the strength to engage with and be proactive in their future. The mode of thanks has changed with many students and parents writing their thanks via email rather than on greeting cards. However, the sentiments have not changed and teaching staff have received remarks on the quality of their teaching and their ability to create a relaxed learning environment. Students continue to describe the way that Muirden has become a special place with an “inclusive approach” to all students making students feel welcome from the moment they enter the College. Along with the thanks they acknowledge that the college has “become their safe place”, one that they “will always cherish”. What is clear from these testimonials is that Muirden has made a difference in their lives and enabled them to graduate and move on.
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. However, this is no cause for complacency and to prevent this Muirden does and will continue to renew its teaching and administrative practices as well as treat every year with the same respect as the previous one.