New Yanchep secondary school taking shape

James Kent at the site of the new school. Pictures: Martin Kennealey d469243
The school taking shape. Pictures: Martin Kennealey d469243
James Kent at the site of the new school. Pictures: Martin Kennealey d469243 The school taking shape. Pictures: Martin Kennealey d469243

JAMES Kent is eager and excited about the prospect of opening a high school next year as he overlooks a construction site.

The Education Department has appointed Dr Kent foundation principal for the Yanchep secondary college, which it expects to open in 2018.

“It’s really exciting; it’s such a thrilling experience to open a new school,” he said.

“We will be a centre for excellence in the local area; we will make sure that the students produce their best.

“Every student should receive an excellent education that prepares them to be productive members of society.

“Staff and I will achieve this through a well-taught curriculum which maintains student interest and challenges them to be their best.

“Key to this vision is building effective working relationships between teachers, students, parents and the broader Yanchep community.

“I’m going to do a lot of work getting to know the people in the community – I’m about engagement and making sure that students get the most out of their education.”

An opening date is yet to be set, but the first students will be those in years 7 to 10 at Yanchep District High School next year.

The school will expand to Year 11 in 2019 and Year 12 in 2020.

Dr Kent said the department anticipated student numbers would grow to about 1200-1500 in five to 10 years.

Over the next year, he expects to work with P&Cs at schools in Yanchep and Two Rocks to develop the programs and technology that the future college will offer.

He also plans to build industry and community partnerships that will provide training and work experience opportunities for students.

Dr Kent will seek community input for the official name of the school and whether to seek independent public school (IPS) status.

“It’s a wonderful resource for the Yanchep community,” he said.

“Most schools today are IPS – if the community would like it, I would like to open as an IPS as well.

“It does give us a lot of flexibility in terms of starting up those programs.”

Dr Kent has more than 28 years of experience in public education in WA, having held senior leadership positions at Tom Price Senior High School, Swan View Senior High School and most recently Tuart College.

He has a passion for mathematics, having completed both a Masters and Doctorate in the subject at UWA.

“My doctoral thesis was on developing an understanding of how mathematics teachers pass on their expertise and knowledge in class, and how this compared to student attitudes toward mathematics,” he said.

“I am committed to improving STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education, and encouraging students to think creatively when finding solutions to real-world challenges.”

Last week Dr Kent toured the Ravensbourne Street site with builders from PS Structures and Donaldson and Warn architects.

He said they had designed it well.

“It is one of the biggest buildings in Yanchep,” he said.

“The teaching spaces are really large.

“There is a lot of communal group working spaces – we can really work on students working together in teams.”

Areas of bush will be retained on the northern corners of the school grounds, which Dr Kent said would be use through the school’s environmental programs.

He said the facilities and information and communications technology would be “state of the art” and offer flexibility for future changes.

“The technology keeps powering ahead and new interactive technologies are very powerful,” he said.

The college itself is building built in two stages, with the first stage catering for about 725 students and the second stage allowing up to 1500.

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