Illawarra Senior College

Military Road, Port Kembla, NSW, 2505

Established in 1993, Illawarra Senior College (ISC) is a Government senior high school that provides flexible educational pathways for students in Years 10-12. It is the only senior high school in the Illawarra region and hosts the Industry Training College, Illawarra on its campus. A wide range of academic, vocational and general interest courses are available full and part-time for continuing, mature age and re-entry students. In 2013, there are 412 students enrolled, including 131 part-time. Most students attend ISC wishing to complete senior studies in a mature learning environment while others who are returning after a period out of school aim to build or refresh their competencies toward completion of secondary education. The diverse student population includes 15-82 year-olds, with a slightly higher proportion of females and 24% Aboriginal students.

How this program works

Students are encouraged to reach their potential through ISC’s broad mix of Higher School Certificate (HSC) and Vocational Education and Training (VET) courses. VET subjects in hospitality, construction, business, engineering and digital media count towards both HSC and Certificate II and are credited for advanced standing in some TAFE courses. Since 2012, students have had the opportunity to undertake school-based apprenticeships or traineeships through the Industry Training College. In 2013, 21 students commenced school-based apprenticeships. Year 10s undertake the Board of Studies senior secondary program and work experience. There is also a range of general interest courses such as digital photography and computing and a strong focus on literacy and numeracy across all courses. Extracurricular activities include a staff and students’ walking group, inter-school knockouts in netball, football, basketball, softball and touch and regional sports.

ISC actively promotes respect, aspiration and responsibility. ISC has classes four days per week and students attend according to their individual timetable, required meetings and College functions. Attendance and academic support are complemented with welfare, mentoring and leadership programs. Regular communication between staff, students and families assists at risk students with individual learning plans, catch-up lessons as needed and assistance with personal health goals. A support group for students aspiring to university studies meets weekly. There is an active Student Representative Council who organise College events such as assemblies and barbecues and have input to College policy including issues such as exam timetabling, discipline and cafeteria menus. Student achievements are celebrated in electronic displays and through merit awards. Such public recognition and the range of student support exemplify the caring and inclusive school culture of ISC.


Positive outcomes, indicating the success of this program: include steady progress toward improved formal results, positive student experience, staff-student relationships and community engagement:

Credentialed attainment: In 2012, 50 students completed Year 12 including 48 who obtained the HSC. 17 students obtained a vocational education qualification.

Program wide achievements: An evaluation of 2008-11 results showed improved literacy and numeracy outcomes and an upward trend in HSC scores. In College self-evaluation surveys, students consistently express a high level of satisfaction with their course work and College life.

Individual student achievements: Two students received Illawarra Workplace Learning Excellence in Vocational Education awards (2012).

Destinations and pathways: 22% of Year 12 students (2012) continued their education at university, 14% in TAFE studies and 27% obtained employment.

Civic/community participation: ISC students participated in service learning, environmental regeneration projects and contributed to the Street Art murals project. Sport and early childhood vocational students participated in learning activities at the local primary school. (2012)

Productive partnerships: 14 students completed part-time school-based traineeships that included paid work in their chosen field (2012). In 2012, many community groups such as the Men’s Shed, karate, dance, triathlon groups and football teams benefited from using ISC facilities.

External recognition: Two ISC teachers received Illawarra Workplace Learning Excellence in Vocational Education awards (2012).

Why this program is successful

ISC staff is highly experienced and there is low staff turnover. Teachers are described in student testimonials as more like friends, understanding, encouraging, helpful and in touch with the students. They also emphasise the mature environment, small classes and personalised support and careers advice. Strong partnerships with the Aboriginal Education Consultative Group have been important to Aboriginal students’ success. Early intervention concerning student attendance or support needs has resulted in improved academic performance for many students.

Want to know more?

Sources of information

ACARA My School (2012) website (accessed 28/5/13)

Illawarra Senior College (2012) Annual School Report

Illawarra Senior College (2011) Annual School Report

Illawarra Senior College (2013) Higher School Certificate Curriculum

Illawarra Senior College (2013) Year 10 Record of Achievement Information

Illawarra Senior College (2013) website (accessed 28/5/13)

Please note, where possible and appropriate, we have adopted the language and terminology used by the program sources (italic fonts) and referred to the most recent publicly available information.

This vignette was developed in 2013 by The Victoria Institute for Education, Diversity and Lifelong Learning (part of the Australian Government’s Collaborative Research Network) for the project Putting the jigsaw together: innovative learning engagement programs in Australia and supported by the Ian Potter Foundation.

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