AN EDUCATION program at Western Port Secondary College is said to be achieving its goal of ensuring that every student meets expected academic benchmarks – from kinder through to year 12.

The Learning Guarantee program, initiated and financed by the Mornington Peninsula Foundation, is part of the Western Port Education Pathway.

“We realised we needed a new approach to keeping kids engaged … from falling through the cracks,” foundation executive director Stephanie Exton said.

“Now, thanks to the dedicated staff across all programs, we’re seeing more and more children and young people reigniting their excitement for learning.”

The Western Port Education pathway coordinates three of the foundation’s programs from kinder through to year 12. These include No Limits from kinder to year 3, which focuses on oral language and literacy, aiming for every child to be on the reading “bus” by year 3; the Learning Guarantee which focuses on upper primary so all children are ready for transition to secondary school by the end of year 6, and, Elevate, which aims to ensure every student in secondary school is on track to complete year 12 or equivalent.

Western Port Secondary College principal Chris Quinn said principals leading the community approach focused on improving students’ academic abilities while ensuring the links to other groups involved, such as Western Port Community Support, operating out of Peninsula Health, are in place to support their families.

“With the first cohort of primary students transitioning into year 7 at Western Port Secondary College next year, the evidence of the impact of these projects can be seen in enrolment numbers which are increasing year on year,” Mr Quinn said.

“We have 139 year 6 students from across our community who have selected Western Port Secondary College as their school of choice for 2021, up from 116 in 2020 and 89 in 2016.

“In partnering with the Mornington Peninsula Foundation on these projects, we’re making a really positive difference to the lives and outcomes of young people across the community of Hastings.”

Mr Quinn said the Learning Guarantee followed a visit to the Harlem Children’s Zone in New York in 2017 to review a community approach to supporting families and students along their academic journey.

Money came after then-college principal Michael Devine won the Commonwealth Teacher of the Year award. Mr Quinn and Tyabb Railway Station Primary School principal Emma Slater also attended.

“Western Port Education is about working together to break the cycle of intergenerational disadvantage, from the ground up,” Ms Exton said.

Primary schools in the Western Port Secondary College catchment are Crib Point, Tyabb Railway, Wallaroo, Hastings and Bittern.

First published in the Western Port News – 30 September 2020