Woodford Primary School proof of Deakin University's local benefit

TOP CLASS: Woodford Primary School principal Daniel Watson with some of his teachers who trained at Deakin Warrnambool. Picture: Rob Gunstone
TOP CLASS: Woodford Primary School principal Daniel Watson with some of his teachers who trained at Deakin Warrnambool. Picture: Rob Gunstone

WOODFORD Primary School is a perfect case study for the benefits of a locally based university campus.

The majority of the school’s teaching staff are graduates of Warrnambool’s Deakin University campus, or its predecessor, the Warrnambool Institute. 

Principal Daniel Watson said 15 of the school’s 16 teachers completed their training in Warrnambool and only two were from outside the south-west region. 

“I’ve been here as principal for about six years and in each of them we have had to recruit at least one new teacher,” Mr Watson said. 

“It’s open to everyone, but we always seem to employ Deakin Warrnambool graduates because they are the best applicants we get. They are the cream of the crop.

“We wouldn’t be the only school like that, I’d say it’s fairly common.” 

Mr Watson said the campus provided an opportunity for people like himself, who didn’t want to leave the region they grew up in. 

He said Chinese language teacher Anna Han would not be teaching in the region if it wasn’t for the campus.

“Anna came to Warrnambool from China with her sister, studied for four years (at Deakin) and is now working in schools across the south-west,” he said. 

“That’s a teacher who would not have come to the south-west and stayed if it wasn’t for that campus.” 

Mr Watson echoed the comments of others who said the region’s education attainment level would drop further if a university ceased to operate. 

He said education attainment levels in the region had traditionally been low with a university presence. 

“Students need to see there are pathways and there are opportunities for higher education available,” Mr Watson said. 

“But not just in year 11 and 12, they need to be seeing it at primary school, the seeds need to be planted early. 

“The university needs to engage better with primary aged children.

“Without a campus, those education attainment figures will drop even lower.”

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