Schools that Excel: Sparking a love of learning at Kerang Technical High School

One of Victoria’s most improved schools is the state’s last technical high school.

Kerang Technical High School is a small school in northern Victoria that is officially classed as hard to staff, but offers prospective employees a strong and long sense of community.

Kerang Technical High School students (left to right) Kate Heffer, Ryan Jardine, Tanner Treacy and Rylee Gitsham in the school’s engineering workshop. Credit:Jason South

“We’re part of a team here working together,” said long-time principal Dean Rogers. “When they come here and meet the staff, they feel comfortable and happy and that’s something I’ve worked hard for.”

Kerang Technical High School has been awarded The Age’s 2022 Schools that Excel winner for rural/regional government schools for its sustained improvement in VCE results over the past decade.

Its median study score has risen over the past decade, reaching a 10-year high of 30 last year. The percentage of students with a study score 40 or above has also surged to a 10-year high of 9.3 per cent last year.

Kerang’s inclusion is all the more impressive as it is officially classified disadvantaged, based on its location, percentage of Indigenous students and parents’ income and occupation.

You can view the full list of winning schools, and explore the data for your secondary school using this year’s Schools that Excel dashboard:

Rogers said the improvements were driven by the school offering subjects that students wanted to study and the dedication of the school’s 22 teachers, which included five alumni.

“They build a fantastic rapport with the students,” he said. “Being a small country town, you see them out in the yard, you see them out in the community, you go to the same places, and all these things contribute to where we’re at with our students.”

Dean Rogers, long-serving principal of Kerang Technical High School. Credit:Jason South

The improvement in VCE scores is complemented by a strong VET program of woodwork, automotive, engineering, welding, metalwork, furnishing, agricultural science and hospitality.

Students make tables, trailers and tinnies in the school’s technical wing. There’s a farm out the back with sheep, chickens and ducks.

Kerang co-captains Eleesha Colville (left) and Demi Greenwood. Credit:Jason South

Outside the school’s 96-year-old music room sits a plaque commemorating Karlie McDonald, an assistant mistress who drowned saving two students in the nearby Loddon River in 1927.

Co-captain Eleesha Colville said the school had come a long way.

“Our teachers are awesome, our students are awesome,” she said. “My dad used to teach here, so I’ve grown up here with dad and then come to the school, and the improvements are amazing.”

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