The four schools that have just joined the coveted VCE 30 club
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Elisabeth Murdoch College has been on the cusp of entering the VCE’s illustrious “30 club” for 10 years.
The “30” in the club’s name denotes a school’s median study score – the marker of an academically solid institution.
Elisabeth Murdoch College has entered the prestigious VCE “30 club” for the first time this year. Acting principal Jodie Ashby and senior school assistant principal Laura Spence with year 12 students Amie Hughes, Riley Vowels, Shelby Edmonds, Jai Thoday, Amelia Dimech and school dog Sonny.Credit: Paul Jeffers
Elisabeth Murdoch, in Melbourne’s south-east, was close to achieving the benchmark in 2014, before the school’s median score dropped to 26 in 2021. It rose by three points last year and another two in 2023, to finally land on 31.
“We are absolutely stoked,” acting principal Jodie Ashby said. “We’ve been trying to chase that elusive 30 for a while, and we’ve put lots of things in place trying to get there. So it’s been great for our kids to get that.”
Elisabeth Murdoch is one of only four schools to join the 30 club this year. Others were Lavalla Catholic College in Traralgon, St Mary’s Coptic Orthodox College in Coolaroo and Lyndhurst Secondary College in Cranbourne.
Ashby said the key to the school’s success was a VCE improvement plan that was put in place 18 months ago.
The plan initiated a number of new practices, including the appointment of a VCE excellence staff leader; a fifth daily session where students could ask teachers for more help; and practice exams during the September holidays.
There’s also been a greater whole-school focus on literacy, and staff have been encouraged to work as external assessors for the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority to get a better sense of what examiners want.
The government school’s motto is “pathways to success” and Ashby said a careers team works with students from year 7 to understand their goals and make sure they are achievable.
“We do a lot of work behind the scenes and I think our staff are relentless in trying to make sure that the pathway that every student wants is something that we can help them meet,” Ashby said.
“We encourage them to pick a pathway that they love and to pick subjects that they love.”
This year, Elisabeth Murdoch had about 190 students completing a scored VCE, while others focused on a vocational major and a few more chose to complete the VCE unscored.
In addition to the median study score of 31, the school recorded a median ATAR of 69.75 and 16 subjects with an average score over 30. There were five student ATARs in the 90s, including the school dux, who received 98.75.
Ashby said the cohort was in year 9 when COVID began, and students have endured lockdown, remote learning and a transition back to school.
The class, which includes her own son who graduated with a vocational major, always had staffed remote lessons throughout lockdown as the school focused on maintaining community and wellbeing.
“I do think that that has now paid off in terms of our kids and their commitment to their studies, their commitment to still finding a great pathway and doing their best.”
At Lavalla Catholic College in Traralgon, a focus on continual improvement and growth has resulted in the best VCE results the school has ever seen.
As well as its median study score of 30, the co-ed school had a large number of students achieving 40-plus study scores and a median ATAR of 67.45 – up several points from previous years. Close to 10 per cent of its VCE students also received an ATAR of 90 or above, putting them in the top 10 per cent of state.
Principal Ryan Greer said 17 VCE vocational major students also finished school with full-time apprenticeships, despite the employment pressures in the Latrobe Valley.
“I’m really pleased for the school, really pleased for the students and their families as well,” he said. “A range of results that present themselves are the best the school has ever achieved. For a regional, non-selective Catholic school, it’s a real credit to them and our staff.”
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