Schools that Excel: How Glen Eira College won the community’s trust

The school leaders of Glen Eira College have long had a private mantra: “Are we there yet, do we have their trust?”

Born out of a troubled period more than 10 years ago when student enrolments at the government school in Caulfield East had shrivelled to fewer than 300, the mantra symbolised staff efforts to win back community confidence in the school.

Glen Eira College principal Sheereen Kindler with senior students (from left) Aimee Harris, Alexander Leathley, Joseph Folwell and Alannah De Jesus.Credit:Wayne Taylor

May’s state budget – which included more than $6.7 million for the college so it can expand its capacity to more than 1000 students – was final confirmation Glen Eira College has emerged as a school of choice in a part of Melbourne that is not short on non-government school options, principal Sheereen Kindler said.

“We clearly have the trust of the community,” Ms Kindler said.

One factor in gaining that confidence has been a steady and gradual improvement in VCE results over the past 10 years, rising from a school whose median VCE score was parked in the high 20s to reaching and then breaking through the 30 mark in the past two years.

The college, which achieved its best VCE median score of 31 last year, has been named The Age Schools that Excel winner among government schools in Melbourne’s south.

You can view the full list of winning schools, and explore the data for your high school using this year’s Schools that Excel dashboard:

Ms Kindler said the improved results had not been accidental.

“We had a focus on the direction that we saw our VCE going and that was done with input from students and staff, and we came up with an action plan with a focus on respect and high expectations, particularly in the VCE.”

Year 12 student and school co-captain Aimee Harris said that didn’t mean teachers were pushing every student to achieve top marks, merely to do better.

“I’d say that there is a big focus on doing as well as you can to your own ability,” she said. “Teachers don’t expect everyone to get 100 on every single test … If someone is getting 50s then getting 60 on their next test is an achievement; if someone is getting 80s then 90 is an achievement.”

The school’s recent trajectory of growth has also stemmed from its efforts to connect better with feeder primary schools, including French bilingual school Caulfield Junior College and Japanese bilingual school Caulfield Primary.

Glen Eira College swapped Chinese for Japanese as its Asian language several years ago and this year has its first crop of senior students studying the language at VCE level.

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