Enrolment boom for west schools

By Star Weekly

By Craig Butt/The Age


When Andrew Neal became principal at Bacchus Marsh Grammar 21 years ago, the fledgling school was home to about 300 students.

Back then, he assumed it would eventually become a school of 800, but its growth in enrolments has far outstripped that estimate.

Last year, Bacchus Marsh Grammar grew to 2265 students across three campuses, and over the past decade enrolments have more than doubled, making it one of the fastest-growing schools in the state.

“We had no idea how quickly it would grow,” Mr Neal said.

“It’s been like three jobs in one – dealing with a small school, dealing with a growing school and dealing with a big school, even though I’ve been in the one place.”

The school currently has the capacity to grow to about 3000 students, he said.

But Bacchus Marsh Grammar’s growth has not been accidental. A fleet of buses bring students in from all over the western suburbs, and students travel to the school from as far away as Point Cook, Williamstown, Gisborne and Greendale.

“Our demographer says it is one of the biggest school catchments he has seen,” Mr Neal said.

He said the school’s size meant it was possible to offer a wide range of subjects, as well as subjects with a handful of enrolments. He said two students were enrolled in an Australian History VCE subject, which a smaller school would have trouble justifying.

Department of Education and Training school enrolment data shows that Bacchus Marsh Grammar and Truganina’s Al-Taqwa College were among the schools that added the most student enrolments over the past decade.

Al-Taqwa College has grown from 1055 students a decade ago to its current 2068 enrolment. Of the 10 schools that have grown the most over the past decade, all but one were combined primary and secondary schools.