Context

Situated in the residential suburb of St Helena, in the City of Nillumbik, about 28 kilometres North East of Melbourne, St Helena Secondary College enjoys a strong reputation in its community. It has a DEECD restricted enrolment zone, which has been a tool to contain enrolments over the past ten years.   This zone is likely to be removed in the near future.  The College’s current enrolment is 1519 and this number is predicted to grow slightly and then plateau as a new secondary school develops, to the College’s north.  The College’s Student Family Occupation index (SFO) is .32 compared to the state median of .52.  The College has eight students in its Integration Program, with one student funded at level one and seven students funded at level two and there are few, if any, students with an English as an Additional Language (EAL) background.  The College is structured into three mini schools: Junior (Year 7), Middle (Years 8 & 9) and Senior (Years 10-12). An Assistant Principal oversees each mini school. The curriculum is based on AusVELS for Year 7-10 and the VCE, VET and VCAL for Years 11 and 12. Classes follow a traditional timetabled classroom model and the College uses an extensive 1:1 tablet-based laptop program to support much of the teaching and learning program.

The main core of buildings was constructed 35 years ago with a number of buildings added in more recent years.  The College has a large number of relocatable classrooms to help it cope with its large enrolment.  A number of modifications and upgrades to buildings have occurred in recent years but significant work will be necessary in the near future. 

Karen Terry has been Principal since 2011 and leads a leadership team consisting of three Assistant Principals, who oversee the sub schools and lead the School Improvement Teams (SITs) and eleven leading teachers, who have a range of leadership roles within the SITs and across the College. The College has an extensive induction and mentoring program to familiarise new teachers with the St Helena instructional model and the use of the 1:1 technology to support their teaching. The Business Manager oversees crucial aspects of the school’s facility, finance and staffing and manages a staff of twenty four Education Support Officers.  The College also employs a large team of instrumental music teachers for its music program.

In addition to a growing VET program and a recently commenced VCAL program, a large music program, a large Performing Arts program and an extensive camps program, the College offers a number of other ways for students to engage with their learning.  For Year 7-12 students there are a range of engaging activities via the Access Program, with activities like debating, aerobics and listening to vinyl.  Recently the College has revamped the House program and its student leadership program to provide more leadership opportunities and to build student connection and commitment. 

The College enjoys an active and supportive community, with a large number of parent and community volunteers contributing to the college in a range of areas.  The College also maintains connection with past staff and students, and a number of annual events celebrate the rich history of the school through involvement of alumni staff and students in the performing arts and other areas.