‣ Disclaimer
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.

I encourage you to personally tour the school and meet the educators and students, form your own opinion and leave a comment here.

Best of luck with your search for the perfect school!

Tour Details

Tour was taken by Principal Joanne Alexander 9am on Wednesday morning

There was a group of around 20-30 guests

There was no opportunity to speak to students during the tour

There was limited time for questions at the end, but guests asked questions during the tour

Vibe of Blackburn High School 

Blackburn High School is located on Springfield Rd, Blackburn right next to North Blackburn shopping complex.  The school has had some growth over the years and there are now about 1300 students at the school. Springfield Rd is a relatively large street and the school is right opposite a church and the shopping center car park, so there are people and cars near the school.  Students have easy access to the shopping center next door.  

The Principal Joanne Alexander is obviously and rightly proud of the investment in facilities and buildings that has gone into the school over recent years.  The new STEM building was opened in 2022 and equipped with “state of the art” facilities.  Joanne spoke enthusiastically about the thinking that went behind certain aspects, such as the communal tables in the science labs and woodworking machinery.  She is a science and maths teacher and has a special interest in the area.  She repeatedly stated that the facilities are fantastic and “they deserve it”, meaning that public school students also deserve top quality facilities.  

It seems that STEM is a big focus of the school with their new STEM building which houses sciences, systems engineering, media, woodworking and machinery rooms.  

I noticed that classrooms including science labs all had tables that were grouped into communal tables so that students worked facing each other in groups.  Joanna said that students must learn to work together and collaborate and this kind of seating enhanced that.  

The gender split is approximately 50: 50.

Enrolment into Blackburn High School 

Joanna said that Blackburn High School has a very small zone so they have capacity to take students outside of their zone.  She also mentioned that in this area, many families choose private education so there it the opportunity for children outside the zone to apply to Blackburn High.  

The school has grown larger over the years and currently has 1300 students.  Joanna said that at 1300 students, they are at capacity, however if you live close by and put BHS as a first preference, there’s a good chance you’d get in.

STEM at Blackburn High School 

STEM seemed to be a big focus of the tour.  We were toured through their shiny new STEM building and classrooms first up.  The new buildings housed subjects including systems engineering, science and media. The classrooms seem to be well equipped with brand new large screen monitors in one room and high tech looking machinery in the woodworking room.  We also saw some new science labs but didn’t go in as there were classes on.  The science room tables were assembled in small groups so students are encouraged to collaborate and work in a team during class – a skill that Joanna said was imperative in today’s work force. 

Joanna said that although facilities aren’t everything, they do provide opportunities for students.  She said the school with its new facilities encouraged students to create things and work with their hands. She spoke about a robotics club that students formed after the buildings were opened and now competes nationally. 

Because of the new building, they can now also host the competition at the school which is an illustration of how facilities can make a difference in education.  Joanna also mentioned that the teacher shortage hasn’t affected the school because teachers want to come and work here because of its new facilities. 

Music and performing arts at Blackburn High School 

Blackburn High School seems to be rather well known for their outstanding music program.  We toured the music and performing arts section of the school but there didn’t seem to be as much to see compared with STEM.  I wonder if STEM is more of a focus now for the school compared with music. 

Joanna said that students have a lot of opportunities to do music at the school.  Classroom music is compulsory for years 7 and 8 and students can continue up to do VCE music.  Joanna said there is a high uptake for music – about 1 in 4 students participate in the music program.   

Music lessons can also be taken at the school for a private fee. 

Joanna said that the school had a new music director start just before Covid.  During the lockdown uptake of the music program understandably dwindled but now the numbers have recovered.  

There are competitive musical performances put on by each house every year.  The music score is purchased but everything else including instrumental performance, costume, choreography is created by the students in respective classes. 

Sports at Blackburn High School 

Towards the back of the school there is a new undercover outdoor hard courts and a sizable grassy oval where we saw many students playing sport.  We also saw the outside of the gymnasium and a weights room.  

Clubs at Blackburn High School 

Clubs mentioned were gardening club and robotics, but Joanna mentioned they have over 20 students lead clubs and that the clubs are formed according to what interests the students.  Enthusiastic teachers volunteer their time to help with the clubs outside of class hours 


Languages that were mentioned included German and French.  


Joanna mentioned several camps , but didn’t go into any details.  She mentioned STEM camp and a Croatia trip.  She also mentioned that year 8 don’t have a camp because they didn’t want one.  

Mentor / House groups at Blackburn High School

Mentor and house groups were mentioned a lot during the tour.  Students are organised into one of the four houses.  Every morning ( except Wednesdays ) students meet with their mentor group which is made up of 24 students from all year levels in their house.  

Mentor groups seem to be an important structure within the school.  There are no year level co-ordinators, only teachers who are mentors for their mentor group.  Mentor teachers are the first port of call for any issues. 

Students stay with this multi year level mentor group and mentor teacher for the entirety of their 6 years at the school.  Even locker areas are grouped according to mentor groups rather than year levels.  Joanna said this works well as there isn’t a big crowd of students when one year level is accessing their lockers. 

In the mentor group sessions in the morning, they cover wellbeing topics and other topics like study skills and organisation skills.  

Joanna said that the benefit of having a close knit multi level mentor group is that younger students get to know older students and they act as buddies and alleviates many issues like bullying.  Also having a mentor meeting every morning means that mentors get to know to students very well and class teachers can be alerted to any problems that student may be having.  

Transition into year 7

When commencing year 7 at Blackburn High School, students are assessed and previous reports gathered from their primary school to aid planning.  There is a half day transition for new year 7 students.    

Bullying at Blackburn High School 

I asked how they deal with bullying at BHS.  Joanna said that they deal with it swiftly and firmly.  She said that when it happens, it’s often outside of school eg online, and then spills into the school.  She said that they get the families involved and have called the police before about extreme bullying. She said that they have zero tolerance for bullying at the school.  

Neurodiversity at Blackburn High School 

I asked if they have many neurodiverse students at the school and Joanna said that they have neurodiverse students and staff like any other school.  She said that they are able to work with allied health to accommodate for these students but didn’t elaborate much more on the topic.  

High achievers program

Blackburn High School offers an extension program for high achievers.  There is one class that is extended for highly able students.  Entry to the class is based on Edutest ( which all students entering BHS sit ).  If they score well on the Edutest, they will be invited to an interview and then offered a place if successful.  students must commit to remain in this extension class for 3 years.  

Final thoughts  

Blackburn High School has recently seen a significant investment into their STEM facilities with a new building opening in 2022.  With the new facilities, the school now seems to have a big push towards STEM, while remaining well known for its music program.  Per Joanna the Principal, many families in the area choose private schools but BHS has seen a growth in enrolments over recent years, probably because of the recent and ongoing investment into its buildings and facilities.

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