‣ 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 took place on Thursday morning during school time.

Our tour started with an informal welcome by one of (the three) Assistant Principals. 

There were around 40 attendees, which were split into two groups.

Half went with the Head of Literacy and two Year 12 students, while the other half (my group) went with the Assistant Principal and a year 10 and year 9 student.

There was no opportunity to meet or speak with with the principal or any other members of staff 

The offering of school tours is also quite limited. They are only run in the early months of the year (March and April), attendees need to live in the VSC zone to be able to book a tour and tours book out within a week or so of being released. 

Vibe at Vermont Secondary College

From the street on Morack Road, Vermont Secondary is unassuming and nestles amongst trees. Once we started exploring, it was amazing how many different classrooms and areas there were.

Vermont Secondary has a reputation for its academic results and success. Results were on display on a board at the start of our tour. In addition, the school celebrates the academic success of its students, with the photos of students who achieved ATARs of over 95 on display in the Year 11/12 common area.

view full gallery here.

The Assistant Principal acknowledged the school’s success, but did not volunteer what he thought his school or teachers did differently to achieve this.

The students seemed happy enough and while the school uniform was worn by all students, there seemed to be a more relaxed approach than other schools when it came to appearance. This is not a bad thing, and showed that the students were free to express themselves.

The Assistant Principal was very confident and spoke a lot, but he did not stop to check in with attendees or open the floor for questions, so attendees needed to speak up and be confident if they wanted their questions answered.

My overall vibe from the school is that Vermont Secondary is a school that prides itself on its academic results and celebrates the success of high achieving students. 

Enrolment at Vermont Secondary College

Being a public school, Vermont Secondary is bound by the enrolment rules of the Department of Education.

This means, if they accept any student who does not live in the designated school zone, the Department will question it. The only time this is allowed is if the student is a sibling of another student already enrolled at the school.

However, given the school is bursting at the seams with 275 Year 7 students each year, the Assistant Principal indicated that the sibling rule may no longer be able to be applied in a few years.

Year 7 at Vermont Secondary College

vermont-secondary-college-Year 7 centre

There was a big focus on the tour about Year 7. There are around 11 Year 7 classes of 25 students. These classes are all part of the same House and will stay together until Year 10.

There is a Year 7 area and many of the core subjects are conducted in their primary classroom, so they don’t need to worry too much about moving around and finding their way.

The Year 7s also have some outside areas where only they are permitted at recess and lunch times.

VCE at Vermont Secondary College

There is a special section of the school for Year 11 and 12 students and there is a study area available for use until 6pm each evening.

Year 10 students are also given the option to partake in what is called “Advanced Placement”.  They can select a Year 11 (units 1 and 2) subject to study in Year 10, with the view to complete the Year 12 units (3 and 4) while they’re in Year 11. This prepares them for Year 12 by giving them a sense of what to expect.

Learning Enrichment and Extension Program at Vermont Secondary College

Vermont Secondary offers LEEP (Learning Enrichment and Extension Program) for students in Years 7-9. This is made up of around 10% of the students (25 in this class with 250 across the other 10 classes). 

Entry to the program is gained by sitting an entrance test in Year 6. The program is not designed to extend students as such, rather enhance and broaden their learning.

Interestingly, the Assistant Principal was vocal about not being a fan of the program, and confessed to only mentioning LEEP as he was asked. His reasons are that he doesn’t think there’s a benefit to the program and cited that the last three duxes of the school did not partake in LEEP. 

He also highlighted that at the end of year 8, the school loses nearly half of the LEEP class to select entry schools and filling their spots in Year 9 is disruptive to students.

Sport at Vermont Secondary College

Anecdotally, I hear that sport is big at Vermont Secondary. The Assistant Principal did not mention many of the school’s sporting achievements but was very excited when talking about the school’s new stadium, which is currently being built. 

Languages at Vermont Secondary College

The school teaches German and French. They have a sister school in France that they used to visit (pre-COVID!). Now things are returning to normal, they are hopeful that this program will start back up again.

Students select one of the two languages to study in Year 7.

Music and performing arts at Vermont Secondary College

There is an instrumental program at Vermont Secondary, with all students given the opportunity to learn an instrument from Year 7. They do not offer piano lessons, though. They also have a number of ensembles that students can play in.

vermont-secondary-college-Music 2

There is a school musical each year, performed in the small theatrette at the school. They also offer Drama as a subject in VCE, but not Theatre Studies.

Mentor program at Vermont Secondary College

High-performing alumni are invited back to tutor, coach and mentor students in the library. It’s a wonderful display of giving back and their connection to the school.

Library at Vermont Secondary College

The Library is a hub at Vermont Secondary. A lot of student-led clubs meet over lunchtime. The Library does close not long after school finishes, though. 

Clubs and societies at Vermont Secondary College

There are many special interest groups that run at Vermont Secondary. Some, like the STEM club, are so popular that they have a waitlist for students.

Buildings and facilities at Vermont Secondary College

Being a public school, the facilities are not state of the art and do feel a little tired.

After some false starts, the school is currently building a new sports centre, which is due to be completed by the end of the year. The hope is that this space will also accommodate things like music performances.

Mobile phone policy at Vermont Secondary College

Being a public school, Vermont Secondary is bound by the Department of Education’s rules. Phones are to be placed in students’ lockers at the start of the day and not be used again until after school.

In reality, though, the school takes a common-sense approach. Many senior students will have their phones on them, but as long as the teachers can’t see them, they’ll turn a blind eye.

Wellbeing at Vermont Secondary College

There are just three houses at Vermont Secondary. There are three Student Managers (who are part of the teaching staff) for each year level – one for each house. The Student Manager will then follow students through their school journey until Year 10. They act as constant throughout these years and a contact for both parents and students.

There are also five members of a well-being team – four social workers and a teacher. Students can meet or work with them to help with anything that gets in the way of their learning. 

My tour group entered a Year 7 class (I believe it was a Health class) and they were deep diving into the concept of RUOK? (Are you OK?) and what to do if someone says they are not or if you don’t think they are OK. It was pleasing to see mental health being discussed.

Learning diversity at Vermont Secondary College

The Assistant Principal also mentioned that they have staff to support children with diverse learning needs. I asked what that looked like practically. He said that there were around a few students who received funding and that meant they had resources for extra staff in the classroom. He said that they cater for all students academically from those who require extra help to those who are gifted and needing extension. He didn’t volunteer more than that, though, nor did he give concrete examples.

Bullying at Vermont Secondary College

This was not addressed proactively, but when asked about their response to bullying at the end of the tour, it was pleasing to hear that the students felt that bullying was not tolerated. One of the Year 12 students had finished with their tour by this stage and joined our group. She spoke very eloquently about there being a zero tolerance to bullying among her peers. If someone was to bully anyone else, it would be called out by other students.

The school will also take disciplinary action against bullying. 

LGBTQIA+ inclusion at Vermont Secondary College

While the Assistant Principal did not address it, I asked the Year 12 student at the end of the tour about inclusivity. She said that students are very comfortable identifying as a member of the community and that she has a few friends who are gender-diverse or gay.

Another student said that he’d estimate around 10% of the cohort are gay and/or transgender. 

Final thoughts

With around 1,600 students, Vermont Secondary is a very big school. Our tour went for almost two hours, and I still don’t think we saw all of it.

The school is very much aware of its reputation and does not need or try to promote the school or boost enrolments. The Assistant Principal even joked that if we lived in the zone and chose elsewhere, they wouldn’t mind.

It obviously does very well academically, and it celebrates this success, but it doesn’t have the bells and whistles of a non-government school, which is to be expected.  

Vermont embraces and caters for high performing students, but I am unsure about whether non-academic students would fit in well at the school. 

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