Posted by The Australian
on 4 December 2019
High expectations matter, especially for students in schools in low socioeconomic areas beset with social challenges and unemployment. In 2015, Marsden State High School in Logan City, south of Brisbane, had a high rate of suspensions and expulsions, and a high staff turnover. Four years on, as Rebecca Urban writes, the school's long-established track record of producing top sporting talent is being matched with other distinctions for academic and cultural excellence. The disciplinary exclusion rate has fallen by 28 per cent despite rapid growth in the student population to 2500. Staff retention has improved and 90 per cent of parents are satisfied their children are learning well and being motivated.
The leadership of Andrew Peach, who became principal at Marsden five years ago, was acknowledged at the recent Queensland College of Teachers' TEACHX Awards. Marsden, Mr Peach said, had always been a "good school" but "what we've done is take it to another level" with expectations around behaviour, attendance and academic performance, and "we really drive home the message that everyone can achieve success" .
That message is one all schools need to share at a time when too many students are struggling in basic subjects such as maths, science and English, despite billions of extra dollars being spent on schools. Like high-performing education systems in Asia, Marsden also emphasises the importance of quality teaching, with mentoring to support teachers in the early stages of their careers and to develop their skills. It is a compliment to the school and its staff that an increasing number of Year 12 graduates are being sufficiently inspired to enrol in teaching courses.
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