Greater Shepparton’s four public secondary schools will be merged into one, with State Member for Shepparton Suzanna Sheed expecting the super school to open in the next five years.
Today, the Victorian Government endorsed the proposition in the hope to improve academic outcomes for all students in the Goulburn Valley.
‘‘The government now has to provide the necessary funding to make this happen as soon as possible,’’ Ms Sheed said.
The single-school proposal will merge Shepparton High School and McGuire, Wanganui Park and Mooroopna secondary colleges into one.
Victorian Education Minister James Merlino said it was the right option and would bring together schools, teachers and families alike.
‘‘We know that transformational change is needed to improve academic outcomes for all students in Shepparton and Mooroopna,’’ Mr Merlino said.
‘‘This is a long-term vision and will take careful planning, but we’ll get it done.’’
In April, the Victorian Government developed the Shepparton Education Plan in the hope of addressing worrying NAPLAN results, which are well below the state average.
After months of detailed community consultation and engagement, an advisory committee recommended the merger.
The large school will be located in Shepparton, broken up into smaller schools or ‘‘houses’’ to create smaller learning communities — where students are well known.
Students will stay in the same house across secondary schools, with Years 7 to 9 students learning within their house and Years 10 to 12 moving across the campus for specialised subjects.
Wanganui Park principal Ken Murray said after looking at a range of possibilities, the proposed option would have the most impact.
‘‘It is obviously a significant change from what’s been in place for a number of years, but it can offer a great deal,’’ Mr Murray said.
‘‘Hopefully we’ll find a place to acknowledge the tradition that is fitting within each of the four schools currently.’’
Mr Murray said he expected the super school to produce some outstanding results and opportunities.
‘‘It is a significant project that we don’t want to be rushing,’’ he said.
‘‘Let’s make sure our decisions are evidence-based and we are thinking carefully about things that will have an impact in the next 50 years.’’
Mr Merlino’s office also announced a team of specialist educators would work with Mooroopna Secondary College leadership, teachers and students next year — following a recent drop in enrolments.
The Victorian Government is set develop timelines and transition plans for the next stage in the near future.
An opinion piece James Merlino has written can be read below.
Schools merger given green light
Today, I have announced an important decision about the future of secondary schools in Shepparton and Mooroopna.
This is about making a significant change to education in these communities to give children the best possible chance to a great start in life.
What is occurring right now simply is not working and that is why we need to make a change.
The four secondary colleges — Shepparton High School, McGuire College, Mooroopna Secondary College and Wanganui Park Secondary College — will merge to form one new single-campus school that will be better equipped to meet the needs and aspirations of young people across the area.
This change is part of a broader Education Plan for Shepparton, which will be released next year with the first step focusing on secondary education.
This is a long-term plan to transform education from early childhood through to secondary education and beyond and will help young people in Shepparton and Mooroopna get the best possible start in life.
This large school, to be located in Shepparton, will be broken up into smaller schools or houses to create smaller learning communities where students are well known, and can build connections across many year levels.
Students and teachers will gain all the resources and broad curriculum benefits of a large school, while operating in a caring, supportive environment.
We have recognised our education system is not working as it should for all local students.
Outcomes for reading and literacy are well below state averages and, despite the dedicated efforts of schools and community groups to address disadvantage, achievement across the area is inconsistent.
This is simply not good enough.
In April, the Andrews Labor Government invested $1million to start the Shepparton Education Plan.
Since then, hundreds of you joined community workshops and meetings, or contributed to the online survey, to build a comprehensive picture of the key challenges facing local young people and what we can do to improve their education achievements.
You clearly identified the need for significant change capable of delivering wider learning options and better career opportunities for students, improved support for teachers, and upgraded facilities for schools.
It was inspiring to see the community engage with finding solutions.
Your feedback was carefully considered by an advisory committee, co-chaired by Shepparton MP Suzanna Sheed and supported by community leaders and education experts.
They also considered school models that had been successfully applied in similar circumstances across Victoria and overseas.
Their final recommendation, which I support, is the option that offers the greatest chance of success.
One large school will be able to offer a broader curriculum, replace competition between schools with collaboration, and allow us to combat inequity by investing in new modern facilities that can be shared by all.
As each student has different aspirations and different learning goals, the focus will be on addressing individual needs.
Today’s announcement also provides an opportunity to plan for the future of the current Mooroopna Secondary College site.
Options for this site will continue to be developed next year.
I recognise that today’s announcement presents challenges. This kind of transformation will take time.
At this stage, we have not selected a site for the new school, but it is not just about delivering new buildings.
Education is all about what happens within them, so it is essential our planning is thorough to ensure a smooth path for students, families and teachers.
I also recognise that there are issues that need more immediate attention.
So today, a team of specialist educators will join Mooroopna Secondary College to support the leadership and teaching team and their students.
We still have a lot of work to do, and will continue to consult the community as plans develop and details are finalised.
I thank you for your support so far, and urge you to maintain that for the next steps.
You can learn more about the new secondary school proposal at the Victorian School Building Authority website or by registering your interest at www.schoolbuildings.vic.gov.au