BSSC - should we be concerned?
We all want the best outcomes for Bendigo Senior Secondary College students and staff.
BSSC with approximately 1,800 students is Bendigo's sole government Victorian Certificate of Education provider - the largest of Victoria's 530 providers.
Member for Bendigo West, Maree Edwards, commenting on the much-needed $10M refurbishment of BSSC's old G block, said, "We're making sure our schools have the best facilities, our classrooms have the best teachers and every child is given every chance to succeed" (Feb, 2).
Dale Pearce, principal of BSSC since 2006, in a February 20 advertisement noted, "I love witnessing the personal and academic growth of our students."
I admire Maree's and Dale's passion however their positivity is not reflected in BSSC's state ranking.
Between 2009 and 2020 BSSC's overall VCE ranking steadily plummeted from 240 to 431; the median VCE score fell from 29 to 26.
This unexplained troubling trend is not widely known. You will read more about improving Rosalind Park's fruit bat conditions than VCE outcomes.
Bendigo cannot idly watch this slide. Improvement is urgent, yet responsible authorities over the twelve years did little to address the deterioration.
The foggy government 2018-28 Bendigo Education Plan and the little-known 2005 Plan set no accountable benchmarks, preferring, "The wider Bendigo community, ... will be engaged with the education profession in improving outcomes for children and young people"
Not to be outdone Greater Bendigo Council's 2014-20 Economic Strategy saw the Education Plan as an "... important tool in helping develop and promote Bendigo as a genuine regional "education city", and the 2021-30 Strategy notes the need to "Increase ... achievement rates ...", whilst its 2017-21 Health and Well Being Plan seeks to "Promote educational attainment".
Noble intentions and empty aspirational puff are no substitutes for accountability and academic improvement.
The evidence shows Bendigo cannot honestly be identified as an "educational city". We need to be very concerned.
BSSC's academic heart needs a clinical review and a recovery plan. Maybe Bendigo needs a second senior college.