Hedland Senior High School has become the school of choice and opportunity, says Principal Janine Keall who has led significant change since taking the helm 18 months ago.

“The number of students enrolling continues to increase and we have secured passionate and committed staff to join our experienced and established workforce,” she said

“An uncompromising commitment and unrelenting focus on our teaching and learning has supported our achievements in engaging students, empowering staff, developing leaders, and connecting with our community.

“The school’s achievements continue to embody our shared values of care, courtesy, respect and responsibility, as we work towards realising our school motto, Together We Achieve.”

Attendance rates are soaring, and students are excelling in their chosen paths.

Ms Keall has challenged the school’s critics to acknowledge the vast improvements over the past 18 months and to “come and talk to me” to get a real understanding of the positive changes.

Addressing Port Hedland Industries Council’s Community Industry Forum last month, Ms Keall said the work being done was “absolutely incredible; a reflection of the hard work by the staff and students”.

“I am so proud of our achievements. There isn’t a school in this State that comes close to the plans and programs that we are running and intend on implementing in the future.

“This  is attributed to the passion, care, and commitment of our staff.

“As a school, we are open and transparent, so we encourage the school and wider community to have a conversation with us because we welcome feedback and like to work with others on finding solutions to challenges.

“We are trying to work collaboratively with the students, the staff, the school community, and Port Hedland itself to be able to provide more and more opportunity.

“We have so many wonderful students at our school, and we need to continue to celebrate what they achieve — day in, day out.

“We also have students who find school a challenge, just like any other school. We work hard to provide wrap around support, and this is an absolute priority. We have gone from a reactive to a proactive model, and change takes time.

“Port Hedland is a beautiful place to live. I’ve been here 18 months and I felt like I was home after about a month.”

Ms Keall said she was working with the Education Department on staff incentives and that “when we attract teachers to Hedland, they generally stay and enjoy the town and the lifestyle it has to offer”.

“We’re supported by several industries in this town, and we are grateful for that. This includes our engagement (Success) program and our vision to become the most IT-tech savvy school in the State.

“The number of senior school students completing an ATAR program has increased largely due to the fact that our classes are now run face to face at school instead of online.

“We made the commitment to provide face-to-face classes even if there’s only a few students enrolled. This is one of our school priorities that supports our industry partners and the Port Hedland community to keep our students and their families in town.

“This investment is putting Hedland students in an incredibly competitive position to students across the State.  In fact, a number of Hedland ATAR students are now achieving scores in the 80s and 90s,  and 100 per cent of our students wanting university entrance have achieved this.”

At the same time, the school is offering more opportunities for students who prefer a different pathway, with a large and expanding focus on school-based traineeships, apprenticeships, and certificates.

The school philosophy is based on supporting students not only to be academically successful but empowering them to reach their potential, demonstrate care for others and give back to the community.

A diverse team of specialists work closely with staff and students, developing preventative programs and plans with appropriate courses of action to support the needs of students.

Students, teachers, and parents/carers can refer to a Student Support team for consultation on issues such as friendship, social skills, bullying, grief, mental health issues, and learning difficulties.

Lower school programs include Maths, English, Humanities and Social Sciences, Science, and STEM, with electives including Metalwork, Robotics, Coding, Japanese, and Aboriginal Cultures and languages, with more courses to be added next year based on student interest.

The Aboriginal Cultures and Languages program has been introduced this year and there are plans to have it available through to Year 12 and potentially to be an ATAR subject.

Hedland Senior High School is one of only two schools outside the metropolitan area to offer a specialist arts program, which is designed to extend talents and skills beyond regular curriculum and provide more industry relevant opportunities after school for students interested in dance, drama, music, media, photography, production, and visual arts. ​

Equipment is being purchased for a new STEM building, with the support of FMG.

BHP, under a three-year partnership, is supporting the school’s Success Program, to prepare young people for life beyond school by building skills and capabilities for employment, further training, or study.​

“With the Pilbara having industry ‘right on the doorstep,’ students access support from training providers and industry partners to provide knowledge and develop skills to assist making informed decisions about their futures,” Ms Keall said.

“Through targeted curriculum delivery and access to alternative training pathways, students plan for and engage in programs to assist with post-school destinations.​

“It ensures students are supported to increase attendance and remain at school longer in order to access real-world and relevant learning to prepare them for the future.”

Restructuring the program to provide a more explicit focus on meeting individual student needs around literacy, numeracy, and social and emotional wellbeing had resulted in vastly improved attendance rates, and a significant reduction in student suspensions.

The school’s Rise Up Program encourages students to engage by achieving individual improvement, providing opportunity for students to set individual goals and celebrate their achievements and encourages community engagement and partnerships.

The Follow the Dream program supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to successfully complete their secondary schooling, ensuring they are well prepared to embark on successful career pathways and to identify as leaders and role models amongst their peers, families, and communities.

A purpose-built Trade Training Centre within the school offers innovative training to year 11 and 12 students and provides strong links to potential employers through access to work experience.

“It is a pleasure to be leading Hedland Senior High School on its journey and I am so proud of our passionate and caring staff that are supporting students to achieve their exceptional goals and dreams,” Ms Keall said.