Schools that Excel: Keilor Downs College thrives despite COVID hit

The Melbourne school hit by the most COVID closures last year emerged with happier students and improving VCE scores.

Keilor Downs College principal Linda Maxwell said the upswing in academic results and student wellbeing was down to a collective effort to keep the school community connected through shutdowns when coronavirus cases were detected, and during the state’s hard lockdown and move to remote learning.

Keilor Downs College principal Linda Maxwell with some of her students, who thrived despite COVID disruptions. Credit:Jason South

“We got through it. The department was ringing us saying, ‘What’s going on, your kids are at home but your results went up?’ ” Ms Maxwell said.

“It was about communication and relationships. The school has always had really good bones in terms of teacher belief and connections with kids, and it suited our temperament to keep building on this positivity.”

Keilor Downs College has scored the winning place for western government schools in The Age’s annual Schools that Excel awards, tracking the state’s most-improved schools over the past 10 years.

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:

Its median study score has hit the coveted 30 mark, up from 28 in 2011. Its percentage of VCE study scores above 40 also rose, to 4.3 per cent.

Ms Maxwell said the results were phenomenal and in line with other impressive data the school records itself, including high attendance and student retention.

“We don’t lose kids. If they leave, we know where they’re going and are supported in that pathway,” she said.

The disruption VCE students endured in 2020 allowed them special consideration from the Victorian Curriculum Assessment Authority, but Ms Maxwell says she didn’t see the adjustment make much of a difference.

“Our kids lifted,” she said. “They were determined. It was like this battle where they weren’t going to let anything else bad happen.”

The school is now focusing on helping its current year 12s, who had a disrupted year 11, as they grapple with another coronavirus outbreak and lockdown.

“They’re reaching out for community. They see school as a place where they can reconnect and reach out,” Ms Maxwell said.

As well as planning a longed-for formal and musical, the school has won funding to create a large mural depicting how it got through the challenges of 2020.

“It’ll be a happiness mural showing all the things that kept us happy during COVID,” Ms Maxwell said.

“There are some lovely things happening.”

Most Viewed in National

From our partners

Source: Read Full Article