New principal embraces new challenges

Rob Duncan is the new principal of Cranbourne West Secondary School.

By Brendan Rees

 As the new principal of the brand-new Cranbourne West Secondary School Rob Duncan says he’s ready for the challenges ahead when the school opens its doors next year.

“There is so much to get excited about,” Mr Duncan said, who accepted his new position on 26 May.

Cranbourne West Secondary School (interim name) is one of two new schools to open in Casey in 2021 – with construction underway at Strathlea Drive, Cranbourne West. The second school to open will be Thoroughbred Primary School (interim name) in Clyde North.

“We’re progressing really well – we’re expecting practical completion to be around November 30,” Mr Duncan said. “Hopefully we’ll actually be in the buildings before the end of year which would be fantastic and ready for the start of next year.”

Mr Duncan is a veteran educator, having spent 16 years at Narre Warren South P-12 College – the past five and half years of which he served as principal. He also worked at Eumemmerring College (both Fountain Gate and Gleneagles campuses) and also spent 12 months at Lyndhurst Secondary College.

“It’s obviously a big challenge starting up a new school. I’m moving from 2500 to probably a 150 or so next year … and obviously recruiting new staff and developing a culture that sits with the new community.”

Mr Duncan said he left Narre Warren South P-12 College “with a great sense of pride” after the school faced challenges of basic standards of learning and student wellbeing in 2015 but under his leadership the college is now recognised as one of the top-10 high performing schools in Victoria.

“That’s a real tribute to the incredible community that we’ve worked with there,” he said.

The school also won the 2018 Lindsay Thompson Fellowship Award for excellence in education as part of the Victorian Education Achievement Awards.

When asked about why he decided to take on his new role, Mr Duncan said: “It just felt like it was time. It’s an opportunity that doesn’t come along very often.”

Mr Duncan said Cranbourne West Secondary School would be a supported inclusion school and designed to support a higher number of students with a disability than a typical mainstream school.

The school will have a capacity for 1200 students when it is completed with 100 places reserved for students who meet the requirements for the specialist enrolment policy.

“We will offer programs in advanced mathematics, science and technology as well as sports, digital technologies and have a strong focus on the literacy and numeracy skills, which are the bedrock to a successful future,” he said.

Mr Duncan added there would also be focus on student leadership and “great opportunities” for those who love sport with facilities and participation in many inter-school competitions.

“The school will be an outstanding addition to the education options in the Casey South area, with state of the art facilities and first class opportunities for all students to excel.”