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Shenton College Business Plan: Shenton 2020
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2020 Context

Shenton College was established in 2001, becoming an Independent Public School in 2011. In this time the College has enjoyed remarkable success in every aspect, including state and national testing and significant co-curricular achievements in every discipline.  As an Independent Public School the College has been externally reviewed three times, one of these as the first Exemplary Review of a secondary school in Western Australia.  In each of these reviews the College received overwhelmingly positive findings with multiple commendations. The College was recognised as WA Secondary School of the Year in 2013, and individual staff and programs have received local and national awards for excellence.  Our previous business plans focused on the interconnected areas of Quality Teaching and Learning, Curriculum Differentiation and Educational Partnerships: these aspects are now embedded in the culture of the school and frame our planning for improvement.

As our third IPS Business Plan this document should be understood as an important, bold step forward for our community – we unashamedly believe that we should be at the forefront of education in this country and we intend to remain there through our shared efforts and passion for education.  Our previous business plans and this Shenton 2020 Plan were informed by the 2008 Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians which had the twin goals of promoting equity and excellence and recognising that all young Australians should become successful learners; confident and creative individuals and active and informed citizens.  The Melbourne Declaration is still at the heart of our planning as are the focus areas identified in the Director General’s Classroom First Strategy (including the Focus 2017 initiative) and the High Performance-High Care Strategic Plan for WA Public Schools (2016-19).  This later policy initiative identifies school leadership as a system priority for WA which establishes the opportunity for the College to pioneer a Leadership Strategy that will identify, nurture, develop and support a new generation of empowered leaders from within our staff through to the executive team.  Michael Morgan (who is our substantive Principal currently working within the Department of Education’s Executive) has championed the importance of school leadership at the systems level and his work has informed our planning.

The College has an established culture that values the intellectual, social, emotional, and physical wellbeing of every child as demonstrated by our motto: Much More than Marks; Learning for Life and its commitment to educating the whole child.  In keeping with this there is a strong commitment to all disciplines: the arts, sciences, mathematics, humanities, and physical development as they are expressed across every learning area.

Building on previous business plans’ commitment to educational partnerships, the College is deliberately outward looking.  In recent years we have worked to establish a National Schools Alliance, connecting with similar schools across the country.  The College has developed strong ongoing friendships with Singapore’s Hwa Chong Institution, is a participant in the Global Learning Alliance and the SWIFT Roundtable (Schools with Innovative Future Technology) and has established strong ties to schools and communities in China and Japan.  The College has a longstanding and highly valued Learning Links partnership with the University of Western Australia and in 2017, joined the Curtin University Innovative Schools Consortium.

Situated in the western suburbs of Perth, the College is not immune to the dynamics of urban renewal and in particular, the underlying trend toward medium density housing.  At the IPS review in 2013 the school population had grown to 1306 and by 2016 our census reported the College had 1946 students, with established predictions climbing to 2600 by 2019. The College has embraced substantial structural change with the creation of a three schools model (Middle 7 & 8; Lower Senior 9 & 10; and Upper Senior 11 & 12) and the establishment of a learning precinct for each sub-school.  The proportion of GATE (Gifted and Talented Education) students within the total student numbers has fallen from the 25% at foundation to below 20%, leading to the dilution of this specialist group’s significance in the school’s outcomes and culture.  There has been no perceived change in the percentages of children presenting with exceptionalities (e.g. disability, elite sporting, EAL/D).  The College leadership is cognisant that it must seize the advantages that come from being a larger school – while being vigilant in response to any perceived or actual deficits.  Within this next planning cycle we will see the construction and completion of the Shenton Stage 2 project, a state-of-the-art facility serving 1000 senior students.  Whilst we look forward with anticipation to the possibilities such a project offers our community we are acutely aware of the management requirements of such a major undertaking.  Shenton Stage 2 is emblematic of our growth in stature as an institution at the forefront of education in WA and we will continue to develop opportunities to strengthen our capacity to respond to the needs of our students and the wider community.

A significant attribute of the College is the high level engagement with information technology.  Student possession of a laptop is almost universal, and, in recent years, the College has developed a comprehensive learning management system in COMPASS – in almost every area: classroom practice; student wellbeing; observation; survey data; finance and communication, technology is a strong driver.  Shenton 2020  acknowledges the all pervasive influence of technology but asserts that, like all core aspects of our practice, it must be thoroughly interrogated to measure its real effect.

A critical challenge for all high performing schools is to retain the drive for innovation and risk taking.  In a climate of sustained success institutions can become complacent.  In a high ICSEA school, where students are in the main compliant and motivated, pedagogy can lose its critical edge.  We are not that school.  The College continues to nurture outstanding programs, and staff, that have embedded strong cultures of clinical practice.  For example, our REACH performance management program; the TEACH UP! video observation platform and the capacity to efficiently collect survey data.  In recent times the College has appointed new leaders to drive areas such as teacher development and support, vocational pathways, the development of shared instructional strategies and pedagogical frameworks, the leadership of student engagement and wellbeing, and to guide our gifted education program.  The Shenton 2020 plan embeds these initiatives, progresses them, and identifies new opportunities, such as the development of College ‘norms’ to consolidate the resilience and sustainability of our success, and ensures we can retain and attract outstanding staff.