We all know that it takes a village to raise a child and three years ago we set out to create the most exceptional educational village in Port Macquarie. Westport High School and Port Macquarie High School embarked on a brave new venture.

From 2015 to 2017 was Phase One – the establishment phase. Much work was to be done to create this new village and now three years on we can reflect on its success.

So, what does it take to make a successful educational village?

Firstly, Teachers with wisdom, care, and grit. The teaching staff has demonstrated innovation, willingness to step outside of their comfort zones, eagerness to form collegial relationships to work smarter, not harder. All of this to create the best village for our children.

Another critical ingredient is Parents. Parents are partners of their child’s learning and providers of the most vital foundation – love.

Parents have regularly contributed to the establishment via engagement with programs, constructive feedback and active contributions to daily school life.

Next is our community. A community that is willing to provide educational partnerships and real-world learning opportunities beyond its classroom walls.

Partner primary schools who value k-12 learning pathways. An Aboriginal community keen to build vibrant, authentic partnerships. And very importantly, a community willing to back public education.

And finally, students. Students with curiosity, individuality, ownership of learning and willingness to fail to learn and grow. In the words of one of our 2017 College Captains, it is the students who make Hastings Secondary College; we make it great – we are sure as hell, no longer ‘that’ local public school. We are so, so, so much more.

During Phase One, the collective wisdom of staff, students and community determined a future vision for the College. This vision would create an educational environment which is driven by excellence, innovation, opportunity, and success. Over the past three years, each of these has been intensely manifested in College life and have become “What we do.”

Innovation is at the very core of Hastings Secondary College. The range of innovative programs which have been designed by College staff and successfully implemented for positive impact on our students is astounding. From our Academies in Sport, Creative Industries & STEM, to our unique LEAP and Zenith programs.

The Educator magazine named Hastings Secondary College as one of Australia’s top 20 innovative schools in 2016. In 2017, the College was appointed as a STEM Action school – a leader in this field and one of only eight schools in the State to mentor others in this growth area. And recognition continues as college staff is regularly invited to present at prestigious educational forums such as Inspire Innovate.

If I ask you to think of success, you will each have your definition.

For some, this is a day to day journey of courage in the face of significant personal adversity. For others, it is a goal, be it sporting, academic or otherwise which they work with perseverance to achieve.
The newly-formed village has enabled a higher level of success than was previously available as discreet high schools. For example, what do you get when you put a group of students with a set of talents on one campus with another group of students with complementary skills from another campus in a Robotics lab? The result – an absolute gun team who would not only have phenomenal success at the Asia-Pacific level but be invited to compete in an International Robotics competition in Houston Texas. Collective success is only possible as a result of the new village.

So, what about the opportunity? What does that look like at Hastings Secondary College? Not only does the college have regular curriculum offerings but also the range of extra-curricular opportunities. Three years ago, who would have thought that we’d have:

- a College Clontarf Academy?

- a college musical?

- or a robot and its student and staff crew that would fly to Houston Texas?

In 2018, we embark on Phase 2 of Hastings Secondary College. Again, we ask each of you – parents and community to be partners with us on this continued journey. Our success is dependent upon the whole village.