GILMORE College principal Carolyn Cook is determined to shake the school’s “unfair” rough reputation and says the proof is in students’ results.
The school hit the headlines for the wrong reasons last weekend, with a statewide newspaper finding Gilmore recorded the highest number of student suspensions in 2010, with 945 suspension notices issued to 275 students.
It was far ahead of Kalgoorlie-Boulder Community High School, which ranked second with 524 suspensions, with nearby Warnbro ranking fifth.
Ms Cook did not shy away from the figures or challenges faced by the school,which is in one of Perth’s lowest socio-economic areas, having previously worked at Port Hedland, Safety Bay and Coodanup schools.
She said the school’s historic reputation still lingered.
“It is disappointing the stigma of the old school (Kwinana SHS) still hangs on us but I think we can get rid of it,” she said.
“Gilmore is a great school and we get good results; we had students from Year 12 last year go on to university and apprenticeships.”
The school was named in the Top 12 performing VET schools in 2011 and its apprenticeship program with Kwinana Industries Council (KIC) is something Ms Cook is proud of.
She said students from lower socio-economic backgrounds often faced a tougher time at school.
“In some cases we are successful in others it is more difficult… these kids have a right to get an education,” she said.
“Most or our students are normal, everyday, average students and it is only a very small group that have these issues and if a handful are going to spoil it, I won’t tolerate that.
“I love these kids; they are very friendly, they are bright and they can do amazing things.”
She said the school offered many programs to address behavioural issues and offered other avenues of learning with the help of SMYL Community Services, PCYC, KIC and The Smith Family.
“It makes you feel very proud that you were a part of that. You have to always encourage the children to aspire and give them that support to help them,” Ms Cook said.