New name, principal announced for Fishermans Bend school

New name, principal announced for Fishermans Bend school
David Schout

Experienced educator Anne Stout has been appointment foundation principal of the newly-named Port Melbourne Secondary College, set to open in 2022.

She told Docklands News of her excitement for the “rare opportunity”, and her vision for the school’s role in the area.

The brand-new secondary school to service Southbank, Docklands, Port Melbourne and South Melbourne will be called Port Melbourne Secondary College.

After consultation in June considered “public interest, relevance to the local area, and local indigenous languages”, the interim “Fishermans Bend Secondary School” was formally named Port Melbourne Secondary College by the State Government in July.

And The Mac.Robertson Girls’ High School principal Anne Stout was last month named the school’s foundation principal.

Ms Stout enters the role with significant experience in founding schools, having served as assistant principal of Albert Park College when it first opened in 2011.

She told Docklands News the role at Port Melbourne was a special one.

“It’s really, really exciting,” she said.

“As a principal, the opportunity to actually start your own school is really rare, but it’s a real privilege. And it’s a big responsibility in this community in particular. I was part of the foundation of Albert Park College, and I know obviously how successful APC has been. The community is looking for something that’s as successful, or more successful, and there’s a sense now that government schools can provide an education that is just as good, if not better, than an independent school.”

In its first year, Port Melbourne Secondary College will open to students in Year 7 and progress by year level thereafter. 

Eventually, it will have an enrolment capacity of 1100 students.

Ms Stout said the new school building on Graham St — currently two months ahead of schedule — was “phenomenal”.

“I have to say, the new building is out of this world. I think people will be incredibly impressed when they see it.”

She said the chance to work on the doorstep to Fishermans Bend, Australia’s largest urban renewal project, was unique.

“It’s a growing development and the school has been designed for that area. At the moment there’s not a lot of residents there, but they will come,” she said.

Ms Stout said while there was always a “sense of nervousness” when a school opened in the local area, positive recent examples — including both South Melbourne and Docklands Primary Schools — should give locals confidence.

“I think now there’s a sense of excitement with new schools, because we’ve had a lot in Victoria over the past few years, and people have seen how successful they’ve been … the mood in the community now has shifted from nervousness to excitement, which is great.”

She did, however, understand why parents might be apprehensive.

“It’s hard for people to visualise what a school will be like until they see it. You’re trying to help people understand or sell a narrative around a school, a community and a building that people can’t see yet. So, it’s a lot of trust and faith for parents to decide to send their children to a school that they’ve never seen before … that’s a big act of faith for families. And there’s a lot of responsibility when you’re principal to deliver, because people are really putting their trust in you,” Ms Stout said.

While a principal’s workload is always considerable, Ms Stout said working at a yet-to-open school was a unique experience.

Current tasks included policymaking, establishing the vision and values of the school, curriculum planning, staffing, and timetabling.

“At the moment we have an almost-constructed building, and me. There’s nothing else,” she said.

“It’s a lot to get my head around. Obviously when you normally walk into an established organisation it’s very different to having to remember every single thing. And if I don’t remember it, it won’t be there on day one.”

Member for Albert Park Martin Foley told Docklands News Ms Stout was an “excellent choice” as the inaugural principal and was “well regarded”. “[She] knows the aspirations and values of our community. Knows all the local schools [and] is committed to excellence,” he said.

According to the State Government, Port Melbourne Secondary College will have a strong focus on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and maths) subjects.

The school was currently taking enrolments for 2022 and hoped to invite families to tour the facilities in term four.

Ms Stout confirmed that Docklands did not fall within the school’s “zone”, despite the Department of Education confirming with Docklands News in May that the school would “serve students living in the Docklands area”.

However Ms Stout said they would likely look beyond the immediate catchment area in initial years.

“We’re certainly expecting to be able to take students out of zone in the first couple of years,” she said.

“While Fishermans Bend is growing, there’s an expectation that we’ll be able to take students from areas that are close to the school but slightly outside the zone. So, I’ll be encouraging families that are interested to put their applications in.”•

For enrolment enquires, email: [email protected]

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