by Matthew Hogan
A new project at Shenton College is creating considerable excitement in the education world and is leading Australia in changing the way teachers network and learn.
The most exciting thing about the Shenton Reach Project is that it involves the first Australian pilot of new technology which allows teachers to use smart phones and capture hands-free videos of their lessons before automatically uploading them to a secure server.
“We have established a video-based instructional support community where teachers and coaches come together to share, collaborate and provide feedback,” says associate principal Christopher Hill.
“We think this is a game-changer for teacher reflection and improvement – and we are proud to be leading it across Australia.”
Shenton College takes risks as it strives for excellence, and it’s projects like Reach that have given the school such a strong standing in the community. Consistently ranked among the top performing public schools since it opened in 2001, 2012 saw more than 99 per cent of almost 250 Year 12 students achieve the WA Certificate of Education. In addition, the school ranked highly in both vocational and academic achievements by students. With results like this, it is little surprise that Shenton College has been named the best public school in WA for 2013. Many students graduate with experiences that take them far beyond the classroom as the college regularly competes in activities as varied as international science competitions and a model United Nations.
Principal Mike Morgan added to the school’s success this year, being named WA Secondary Principal of the Year. He says Shenton College has always aimed for the stars.
“Our success is the result of our strong learning community, excellent partnerships within and outside the college, and wonderful staff and students who work incredibly hard,” he says.
Christopher says high quality teaching is at the heart of Shenton College.
“The college leadership has successfully nurtured and encouraged teaching staff to translate their professional interests and passions into teaching and learning experiences that deliberately improve student achievement and add the richness of what we call ‘the Shenton difference’,” he says.
The school is also committed to improving the skills of teachers through a highly effective leadership program. Awards judge and WA District High School Administrators’ Association president Alan Smith says Shenton College staff are dedicated to helping students achieve by focusing on all aspects of their education.
“Shenton College demonstrates a strong commitment to developing the ‘whole child’, with social and emotional development sitting alongside the academic achievement of students,” he says.
Carolyn Murphy from Teachers Mutual Bank, which sponsors the award, agrees. She says the way the college provides diverse programs for all students is impressive.
“Shenton College offers a wide array of curriculum programs and co-curricular activities which gives students numerous opportunities to develop their social and leadership skills and achieve academic, sporting and cultural success,” she says.
“Increasingly, the college has responded to the needs of industry and as a result there are many students studying for vocational qualifications.”
Shenton College was part of the second intake of Independent Public Schools in 2011 and has more than 1300 students from across the western suburbs of Perth. Since then, the college has made staffing decisions that have had a positive impact on student wellbeing and outcomes including the appointments of a corporate services manager, business support officer and network manager.
“These positions have created a far more coherent and efficient use of available resources which has enabled better teaching and learning and student achievement,” Christopher says.
The school also has a close working relationship with parents and the local community. The centrepiece of its community partnerships is the Learning Links collaboration with The University of Western Australia.
“Learning Links contributes numerous opportunities that enrich and extend our students, particularly in science-based mentorships, advanced master classes for senior students, and a long running and successful work experience program for Year 10 students,” explains Christopher.
“There are few aspects of our education programs that have not been touched by Learning Links.”