‣ 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 on a Friday morning 

Tour was conducted by Assistant Vice Principal Kate Phillips 

Although it was public tour, there was only one other family on the tour so it felt like a private tour

There was no opportunity to speak with other staff, the Principal or any students on the tour 

Rowville Secondary College eastern and western campuses

Rowville Secondary College is unique in that it’s divided into two campuses that are located a few minutes shuttle bus away from each other.  The tours are carried out separately on either campus.  This tour was only for the Eastern Campus which caters for General Excellence and Maths and Science Academy students.  Sports Academy and Institute of the Arts are located at Western Campus.  

Students need to choose what program they choose to go to prior to entry to the school.  

The programs are 

  • General Excellence 
  • Maths and Science Academy
  • Sports Academy 
  • Institute of the Arts

There are about 800 students in the Western Campus and about 1100 students in the Eastern Campus.  A shuttle bus runs between the campuses allowing students to take subjects on both campuses. 

Students who choose the Maths and Science Academy, Arts Academy and Sports Academy are students that have a definite affinity for those areas and already know they want to specialise.  General Excellence is more like the standard high school when students can decide if they want to specialise later. 

Once enrolled in Rowville Secondary, it is possible to change programs, but not many students want to do this and it also depends on availability.  

 The tour I attended was only for the Western Campus, so there wasn’t much information about the Eastern Campus. 

Vibe at Rowville Secondary College Western Campus 

Rowville Secondary College Western Campus is located in suburban Rowville amongst some well presented streets.  

Buildings, classrooms and grounds were reasonably clean but a little unkempt compared with some other public schools I’ve visited.  To be fair, Kate apologised about how the grounds looked and explained that the technology area is being upgraded and much of their grounds resources were being tied up there.  

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Inside the buildings and classrooms, it was great to see that there was quite a lot of student posters and ads for activities that are happening at the school which gave some insight into the school’s culture and personality.  There were also posters in many of the classrooms with expected behaviours and values of the school.  

There didn’t seem to be an oval or large grassy area at this campus, possibly because the ovals are located at the Eastern campus with Sports Academy.  

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It was interesting to see there were a few examples of free food and fruit available for students at the school – at reception and also at the library.  I asked the Kate about this and she said some of the food is from the Foodbank and there are always some kids that require it, even though Rowville isn’t known as a low socioeconomic status suburb.  

I asked if there was much parent involvement at the school and Kate said not really.  Parents can be on school council but aren’t really involved otherwise. 

Behaviour and academic management at Rowville Secondary College Western Campus

Kate said that Rowville Secondary is a Positive Behaviour School.  She spoke of a new points system that will be introduced to the school 2024.  The points system assigns points for both academics and behaviour to allow students to take responsibility for their own learning and behaviour.  Kate said that it’s preferable that students know how they are faring in both areas during the term, rather than wait for a report at the end of terms.  

The new system will allow students to see their Grade Point Average ( GPA ) and Behavioural Point Average ( BPA ) on an online dashboard.  Students will be given points for eg. handing tasks in on time ( GPA ) or eg. wearing their uniform well ( BPA ).  

There will be a minimum standard, below which there are supports in place to help students achieve better standards. 

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Year 7 at Rowville Secondary College Western Campus

There is a dedicated year 7 building where most of the year 7 classes take place.  They are somewhat protected and separated from the rest of the school to allow them to settle in and get to know each other.  There is a separate outdoor area especially for year 7.  

Year 7 camp happens early in the year to allow new kids to get to know and bond with each other.  Camp is two nights away at Cape Shank. Camp is not compulsory but about 98% of students go.  

Clubs / Friday activities at Rowville Secondary College Western Campus

I asked if there were any clubs at the school and Kate said there are including chess club. She said they change each term depending on what students wanted to do.  

There are Friday morning activities which are student lead activities and opportunities for student leadership.  One of the activities is breakfast club at the library every Friday.  

It was mentioned that the library is busy with many board games and other activities taking place at lunchtimes.  

Learning mentors at Rowville Secondary College Western Campus

Every morning students spend 20 minutes with their learning mentor.  

In year 7, learning mentor groups are made of ‘rainbow groups’ with students from all houses. From years 7 to 12 the learning mentor groups are vertical groups ( multiple year levels ) made of students in the same house.  This is to allow students to befriend students in other year levels.  Students have the same learning mentor through their school journey from year 8 to 12.  Learning mentors therefore form a deep relationship with students and will be the first port of call for any issues.  

Years 11 / 12 and pathways at Rowville Secondary College Western Campus

As there are two campuses and many students in years 11 and 12, Kate says that many electives are offered and students are able to travel between the two campuses to take the electives on either campus.  

Rowville offers all senior pathway options including VCE, VM and SBAT – School-Based Apprenticeships and Traineeships.  

A handful of students take SBAT each year.  

Enrolment at Rowville Secondary College Western Campus

Rowville Secondary College is currently not strictly zoned and students are accepted from out of zone.  

However, the academies for sports, arts and math and science are select entry.  Kate said the Sports Academy is really for elite athletes and there are many students who get drafted into the AFL.  

The Maths and Science Academy is also select entry with testing prior to entry.  There are limited places available – in 2024 there is only one class ( 26 students ) taking this program.   Apparently it isn’t as stringent as selective schools ( eg Nossal High School ), but students need to show a level of ability to be accepted.  If a student already at Rowville Secondary wants to change programs into the Maths and Science Academy testing isn’t required as they will already know the student once at the school.  

To be a good candidate for the Maths and Science Academy, Kate said it’s more about showing an interest, a passion and curiosity about maths and science and the testing is to ensure the students are able to keep up with the program.  

Class sizes / Classes at Rowville Secondary College Western Campus

There are a maximum of 26 students per year 7 and this year and next year there are 5 year 7 classes.  

There are four year 7 classes that are General Excellence and one year 7 class that are students in the Maths and Science Academy.  

Maths and science academy at Rowville Secondary College Western Campus

The maths and science academy is select entry.  Kate mentioned there is a test taken prior to be given a place at the program but didn’t mention what the test involved.  She said that the students are involved in more immersion and real life projects involving maths and science and more of their timetable ( ?one third ) is dedicated to those two subjects.  

Performing arts / music / sports at Rowville Secondary College Western Campus

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Students in the Western campus still have the opportunity to participate in performing arts, music and sports as part of the core curriculum even though it’s not the speciality on this campus.  These however were not a focus of the tour.  

There is a school production that happens every year where students have the opportunity to perform or take part in backstage activities.  

There is an indoor pool on site which is rented out to Paul Sadler Swimming School every morning until 11am.  Kate said that the unforeseen benefit of this is there is a community feel in the school as there are often parents with toddlers walking to and from swimming classes on campus and students know to be mindful of them.  

In years 7 and 8, swimming is part of the PE program.  

High abilities program / learning support at Rowville Secondary College Western Campus

Kate mentioned there is a high abilities program above and beyond the maths and science program where students who are identified as excelling will be given the extension required.  

Similarly if students are identified as struggling, they are helped.  How they are helped and or extended was a little vague.   

Bullying policy / diversity at Rowville Secondary College Western Campus

Kate said that there is a diverse range of ethnicities that attend the school and that neurodiverse children are catered for as well.  

We spoke about bullying and she said that is something the school takes seriously.  When bullying incidents occur the families, learning mentors and house leaders are all involved to rectify the problem.  It’s not something that would be “swept under the carpet”.  

The school has a well being co-ordinator and mental health staff as well as a well being dog who just started at the school this year.  

I didn’t get to ask about LGBTQI diversity.  

Final thoughts 

Rowville Secondary College Western Campus seems to offer a good option for students who are interested and have a passion for maths and science as well as an all round option for students who don’t want to specialise early ( general excellence ).  The select entry Maths and Science Academy may be an opportunity for students who have an interest in STEM but haven’t been offered a place in selective schools, particularly as Rowville Secondary currently accepts students outside of the zone.    

Perhaps because of the format of the tour, it was a little difficult to get a cohesive philosophy underpinning the education – ie what do they want to make of these kids?  There was a lot of mention of expected behaviours including their new points system being introduced next year.  There are also many posters around the school outlining what is involved and what is expected, but how that translates into day to day I’m not sure. 

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