‣ 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 Overview

Tour took place on a Friday morning with about 8 attendees

It was at the Yirramboi campus which includes grades 5 to 12 (excluding grade 9)

Was hosted by Katherine, who works in the Community Relations department and is also a teacher and parent at the school

Car park and meeting point was easy to find

There was an opportunity to observe classes 

Vibe at Overnewton Anglican Community College

Located just off the Calder Freeway in Keilor, the Yirramboi campus of Overnewton Anglican Community College was easy to find and is about 15 kilometres from the Melbourne CBD.  On one side of the school are suburban streets, on the other side there are swathes of farmland which makes for a calm and relaxing natural environment.  This campus of the school occupies 23 hectares. 

Given there are not a lot of independent co-educational options in the North-Western suburbs, I was really looking forward to joining the tour.

School structure and enrolment at Overnewton Anglican Community College

Overnewton comprises two Campuses – the Yirramboi campus in Keilor which includes the middle school (years 5 to 8) and the senior school (years 10 to 12) and the Canowindra Campus in Taylors Lakes.  The Canowindra Campus includes the junior school (prep to year 4) and year 9.  The tour I participated in included the middle and senior schools at Keilor.

While the total number of students at the whole school is over 2,000, our tour host Katherine emphasised that the College very much treats the different sub schools separately to ensure students get the attention and care they require.  Each of the sub schools have their own leader.  The principal of the whole school is Emily FitzSimons who recently joined Overnewton from The Geelong College.  All of the staff we interacted with on the tour were pleasant and enthusiastic.

view full photos here
view full photos here
view full photos here

The school has major student intakes in prep, grade 5, grade 7 and grade 9.  From prep to grade 4 there are 6 classes capped at 24 students.  An additional two classes are added from grades 5 to 8 and they do have the capacity to go up to 9 classes in grade 9.  Katherine said the largest intake is at grade 5 given this is when the middle school starts.  Interestingly, she mentioned that they consider all students in grade 5 to be new even if they are transitioning from the junior school because they are on a different campus in a new environment.  

The middle school hosts an extensive orientation program for grade 5 prior to starting which involves 6 days at the school prior to commencement the following year.  It was noted that they don’t always take a huge amount of new students at grade 9 because they need to fill a whole class.  Like any school, casual places do become available from time to time.

Overnewton’s enrolment policy is on their website and as you would expect enrolments are offered based on list position.

Transport, facilities and canteen at Overnewton Anglican Community College

There are private school buses that bus children to both campuses from suburbs as wide-ranging as Moonee Ponds, Williamstown, Melton, Coburg and Cragieburn.  Students swipe a card when they enter and exit the bus and the journey of the bus can be tracked by parents on an app, like Uber.

The facilities are fairly impressive given this is a mid-fee school.  There is a football oval and several basketball courts, 6 technology rooms, several art and design rooms, state of the art science labs, a stage and performing arts area and a chapel space. 

The middle school has a canteen where students can either order at the counter or place a lunch order.  The senior school has a cafeteria space where teachers also eat.  I like that students and parents eat together.  Along those same lines, the leadership of each of the schools have offices with clear glass walls so they are easily accessible to the students.  A lot of thought has been put into the facilities to create a sense of community and inclusivity.

Ethos of the school at Overnewton Anglican Community College

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The school is Anglican although Katherine highlighted that they are welcoming of all faiths. Religious education is compulsory however they learn concepts such as values and morals that are applicable across all religions. 

There is a chapel area in the school which students attend on a weekly basis.  Given the demographics of the area the school looked quite multicultural and there were a couple of murals where students had created artworks depicting their family’s cultural background.

The community aspect of the College is extremely important.  The school believes that education is a partnership between the school and the parents and require that parents complete 12 hours of volunteer work per term. One parent asked if this was compulsory and the response was that if parents can’t commit to it, we do ask whether this is the school for them.  The volunteer work can be done after school hours or on weekends and they ask parents to consider what skills they have which would be of use.  Katherine noted it is also a great way to meet other parents.

Pastoral care and wellbeing at Overnewton Anglican Community College

In the middle school, a learning and development teacher is assigned to the class in addition to the classroom teacher and there are always two adults in a class.  The school has a whole faculty of psychologists and wellbeing experts which students can access. There is also an extensive pastoral care program which includes pastoral care classes with specialised teachers.  Topics focused on include areas like leadership and sexual health.

There is a career development teacher for students in grade 9 onwards.  Katherine mentioned the focus is on guiding the students on what subjects they enjoy and are passionate about, rather than “what they want to do when they grow up.”

There are a number of lunch time and after school clubs including choirs, sports and student representative council/ community service.

Camps take place at most years levels including first term in year 7.

Curriculum at Overnewton Anglican Community College

I did get the impression this is a school which has “something for everyone” whether that’s the traditional subject pathways, sports, art and design or performing arts.  In addition to the VCE, the senior school offers a vocational major, with those subjects taking place off-site.  It wasn’t clear how many students had taken up that option. 

In years 5 and 6 some traditional subjects are taught partially in Mandarin.  Then in year 7, students can opt to have some of their maths classes taught in Mandarin.  Katherine explained this is optional from year 7 given students joining from other schools may not have had any exposure to Mandarin in earlier years. 

In years 5 to 7 students have “tasters” of future electives and can study subjects like app design, web design and robotics.  Then from year 8 they can choose one or two electives. 

Sports at Overnewton Anglican Community College

There are a lot of options for sporty kids.  Sport is compulsory and the normal range of sports are offered.  Some non-conventional activities fulfill the compulsory sporting requirement if your child isn’t particularly sporty, including table tennis, chess and even drama! 

The school plays in an inter school competition with other co-educational independent schools including St Leonards in Brighton and St Michael’s in St Kilda.  The interschool competition takes place on a Tuesday afternoon and the kids are bused back to the school by 5pm.  There are no weekend interschool sports which no doubt some families will be happy about!

Overnewton has a partnership with the Melbourne Victory Soccer Club so there are lots of options for kids into soccer.

Visual arts, design and performing arts at Overnewton Anglican Community College

I was impressed with Overnewton’s offering in the arts space.  Visual arts can be chosen at all levels, with each term having a slightly different focus such as painting, 3D art, clay, architecture, sculpture and textiles.  I did ask whether their visual arts offering encouraged families to choose the school if they were really into art.  The response was “probably not” but if they are interested in it, they are certainly catered for.

view full photos here

Performing arts, on the other hand, is a standout strength of the school.  We got to see one year level practicing their Lion King performance and there was a buzz around the school given the school musical “Peter Pan” had been performed for the first time the previous evening. There is a dedicated stage space for practice and it also hosts small performances.

The design classes are also quite impressive.  Katherine mentioned a program that year 9 design students participate in where they get to design a solar powered vehicle and race it against different schools.  We got to sit in on a senior furniture making class where students were designing their projects in CAD and bringing them to life.

Final words

Overall, the tour and experience at the school was great.  Overnewton appears to cater for a wide range of students in a nurturing and caring environment, focused on the community.  I like that the “community” aspect is not just lip service – it is ingrained in the name of the school and parents are held to account in being a part of that community.

While we didn’t have a huge amount of interaction with students on the tour, the students we did see in class looked happy and calm. Definitely a solid option for those parents looking for a good, all-round school in this part of town.

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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