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This article contains information that is for general information only and should not be used for the basis of making any decisions regarding education or anything else. It is solely the writer’s opinion of the writer’s experience of one open day at the school and the writer’s interactions with the people present on that day. The writer’s article is purely subjective. Facts and information may or may not be complete, accurate, reliable or valid reflection of the school in question.

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Name: Ashwood High School

Sector: Public

Gender: Co-educational

Religion: N/A

Year 12 Fees: N/A

Location: Vannam Drive, Ashwood 3147

Phone number03 9807 1333

Website: https://www.ashwood.vic.edu.au/

Tour Details

Tour took place on Wednesday morning

There was a big group of attendees separated out into smaller, but still pretty big groups.  Our group had about 30-40 people.  

Groups were taken by school staff with several students following the group 

Our group was taken by Flynn house leader Vicki K

The groups all ended up in the hall to watch the principal’s address

There was no chance to interact with staff or students after the presentation

Ashwood High School principal’s address

Principal Dr Brett Moore addressed the group at the conclusion of our tour around the school with Vicki K, Flynn house leader and French teacher.  The principal’s address is planned so it can be watched before or after taking the tour.  

The main themes of Dr Moore’s address were 

  • how much the school has improved since he took over in 2015 and 
  • the focus on discipline as the foundation of their success in every way.  

In the 8 years since Dr Moore arrived at the Melbourne school Ashwood High School has grown from a handful of kids in the year 7 ( approximately 33 students ), to now a big school with 9 x year 7 classes of about 25 students each.  Dr Moore was placed there deliberately in 2015 to improve the school.   

Ashwood currently has about 900 students from years 7 to 12 and will be at capacity at 1000-1100 students.  This is a testament to how much the school has improved over the 8 years.  As parents in the local community view the school positively, the more demand there is for enrolment.

The way Dr Moore addresses the crowd gives the impression of a football coach.  I believe he even mentioned, he runs the school like a football coach.  There was a lot of emphasis on discipline and respect that is expected from everyone in the school, staff and students alike.  He believes that this discipline underpins the success in all areas including giving students a sense of community, pride and cohesiveness as well as encouraging academic achievement. 

Ashwood High School room
Ashwood High School-library
Ashwood High School-landscape
Ashwood High School hall
Ashwood High School-room2
Ashwood High School-landscape

View full gallery here.

( paraphrasing the presentation )

“ Students feel a sense of pride to belong to Ashwood and this leads to achievement” 

“ If you don’t like homework, go somewhere else”

“ If you don’t like discipline, go somewhere else”

He is not shy about saying he “runs a tight ship” as it states in one of his slides.  He believes that this is how the school has improved from almost closing down 8 years ago to now being one of the top ranking government schools in Melbourne.  He refers to Ashwood High School as the “ Jewel of the East” and “Private school in a public system”.  

Ashwood apparently ranked in the top 10 government school in 2021 according to their website. ( Note: I’m unclear where the data came from.  On the https://bettereducation.com.au/ site it’s ranked #36 among top government schools in Melbourne currently based on 2022 scores. )

It does look like Ashwood is on a strong trajectory upwards with a new $10 million building scheduled to be completed end of term 2 2023.  The new building will house STEM classrooms and a brand new state of the art library.  There were many slides on the data about how well Ashwood is performing academically and also parent survey results showing the positive regard the school is held in.  

During the presentation there was even a uniform parade by several students showcasing their winter / summer / sports uniforms.  It’s safe to say that uniform is taken seriously here. Dr Moore stated if the uniform isn’t worn as stipulated, students get an immediate detention without warning as he “doesn’t want to be soft”.  He believes that wearing the uniform well is part of being proud of the school.  

During the presentation, there was a lot of talk about the vision and value acronyms that underpin the school culture – CHOIR ( Community, High Expectation, Optimism, Innovation, Respect ) and CREATE wellbeing model ( Curiosity, Relatedness, Empathy, Autonomy, Thankfulness, Exercise ) for example, however not a lot was said about how these were actually embedded into the school day. 

Dr Moore spent a lot of time talking about performance and mentioned “lifting the top, while pitching at every level’.

The vibe at Ashwood High School

My impression of Ashwood is that it is a school where discipline and achievement highly valued.  Under the direction of Dr Moore, the school aims to improve until it’s known to be one of the best schools in the state. Vicki compared it to Balwyn High School in its early days ( now known to be one of the most academically high achieving schools in Melbourne ).  

Ashwood currently seems like quite an academic school with a focus on helping high achievers excel with the ACE program.  Although they do offer VCAL subjects and different pathways were spoken about on the tour, it doesn’t seem like a major focus.  There is a limit of 25 VCAL places per year.  

There seems to be a lot of sports, music and performing arts on offer however I don’t believe they took quite as much focus as academics. 

Ashwood High School-landscape

The grounds at Ashwood are clean, very green and expansive with wide open spaces and a large oval that borders on High St.  It’s built on 16-17ha of grounds, apparently the largest government school grounds in Melbourne.  

Students were seen to be quietly engaged in their classes.  Not surprisingly, the students seem to be polite and disciplined.  There were several students that were called on to answer questions during the tour.  Vicki, our tour leader, chose a few students and asked them to explain what they were learning to the tour group.  There were also a few students who presented their view of the school during the presentation.  

Students were invariably well spoken and answered questions calmly and confidently in front of the whole group.  Students were also confident to speak up during the tour if they had something to contribute. 

Enrolment at Ashwood High School

Almost all students come from feeder primary schools in the area.  Vicki was unsure about the percentage of students that come from outside the zone, but she mentioned that the school is bursting at the seams already so it’s unlikely students living far away will be accepted.  

Any student that comes from outside the catchment to join the school must go through an interview process with the principal.  

There are several factors that they consider if applying from outside the zone:

  1. Students with siblings at the school address are prioritised first 
  2. Proximity
  3. On curriculum grounds – eg. if French isn’t offered at their local school 
  4. On compassionate grounds – eg. if the student can’t go to the local school because of bullying

Orientation and year 7 at Ashwood High School

It seems that Ashwood spends a lot of time testing on entry and interviewing students at their primary school prior to entry in year 7.  This is so that their needs can be accommodated and transition in Ashwood is smooth.  

Differentiated learning is practiced in classrooms and teachers create lesson plans that are tailored to students’ needs. 

Some interesting parts of the curriculum in year 7 include food studies and digital technologies which are both compulsory half year subjects. 

ACE program ( an approved SEAL program ) at Ashwood High School

The ACE Program is an enrichment and extension program designed for high achieving kids.  

On entry in grade 6, students can opt to sit the test to be admitted into the program which extends their numeracy and literacy skills.  Apparently out of 200 students who sit the test, about 25 are admitted into the program.  

Details here: https://www.ashwood.vic.edu.au/articles/99

Science at Ashwood High School

Ashwood seems to place a strong emphasis on science.  Vicki mentioned that Dr Moore hand picks his staff to ensure they are high quality staff with a lot of industry experience.  Science is compulsory in years 7-10 and become elective in years 11 and 12.  Vicki said that many students continue on in VCE years.  

STEM subjects look to be an even bigger focus for the school after the new “state of the art” building is open at the end of term 2, 2023. 

The science teacher that spoke to the group said that it’s important that students have a general grasp of science for everyday life.  He mentioned that these days we are hit with so much scientific information in life that a basic understanding of science is required even if students aren’t aiming for a scientific career. 

Ashwood High School-library

Languages at Ashwood High School

French is the main language offered at Ashwood and is compulsory in years 7 and 8 and then becomes an elective after that.  

There are opportunities for experiences in New Caledonia in years 9 / 10 and 11 and also an exchange program to France.  

From what I can understand, Chinese is also offered, but only as a first language.  

Sports at Ashwood High School

A number of sports were mentioned as we passed by the facilities including: 

  • Softball
  • Baseball
  • Volleyball
  • Badminton 
  • Soccer 
  • Tennis
  • Futsal
  • Badminton 
  • Table tennis 

There was also a rumour of a basketball club starting before school, but not confirmed yet.

Music / Performing Arts at Ashwood High School

Classroom music and drama are part of the curriculum in years 7 and 8 and become electives after that.  There were many different types of bands mentioned and a jazz band performed at the start of the principal’s welcome which was quite impressive.  

Students can also opt to take private or group instrumental lessons at school.  There is a private fee for these classes and they take place during school hours.  

Every second year Ashwood puts on a school musical where students can opt in to perform, work backstage and / or on sound and lighting.  Every other year, there is a music festival in which all students participate and the houses compete against each other.  

Students have the option of taking theatre studies as an elective.  

Ashwood High School hall

Inclusivity and diversity at Ashwood High School

The only mention of inclusion was during Dr Moore’s presentation.  He believes that the structures of routine, order and discipline provides the environment for inclusion.  

There was no other real mention of inclusivity and diversity and no time to ask at the end of the tour. 

Wellbeing and mental health at Ashwood High School

Dr Moore did mention that psychology impacts performance in the context of needing discipline and a sense of pride to encourage achievement.  He showed a number of graphs illustrating how well students measured their wellbeing at the school – ie generally positively.

When asked, Vicki said for any mental health concerns, the first port of call is the school chaplain or two counsellors.  If the issue needs escalation then there is a full time school psychologist who can help.  

Final words

It seems like Ashwood is a school that has improved in image and results a lot over a short period of time under the leadership of its principal Dr Moore.  This trajectory doesn’t seem to be slowing with significant grants being awarded to the school for the new STEM / library building to be completed over the next few months.  

Do you have any experience, questions or comments about this school? Let our community know and add a comment below. We’d love to hear from you!

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