Home » Bellbird Park State Secondary College – Meet the Principal April 2023

Bellbird Park State Secondary College – Meet the Principal April 2023

Daniel Bouwmeester    April 28, 2023    5 min read   

Meet Bellbird Park State Secondary College Principal Michael West

Bellbird Park State Secondary College is the fastest growing school across the Greater Springfield and Ipswich region.

We sat down with Foundation Principal Mr Michael West to learn about his journey so far.

Strong foundation

Mr Michael West was appointed Foundation Principal of Bellbird Park State Secondary College (BPSCC) midway through 2016.

“I was very drawn to the opportunity of opening a school,” he said.

The school opened in January 2017 with 212 Year 7 students and 31 staff.

“Now, in 2023, we have approximately 1,800 students and 150 staff. We expect to exceed 2,000 students within a couple of years.”

It is a particularly diverse and multicultural school, Michael explained.

“Our students proudly speak of their cultural backgrounds, and we believe the College is inclusive of all cultures.”

Leading a school as principal is a huge responsibility, and it is a job Michael takes very seriously.

“Education is the single most important protective factor in a child’s life.

“Teaching is such an incredible privilege, and children call upon us as educators to be their supporters and protectors.”

He is dedicated to improving student outcomes by ensuring high quality, evidence-based teaching practices in every classroom, every day.

“We are committed to supporting and promoting a professional, collegial, and collaborative approach to creating an expert teaching team with effective pedagogical practices.”

“My position as Principal affords me the opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of our students, staff, and community.”

2022 graduation outcomes:

– 100% received their Queensland Certificate of Education (QCE);

– 100% achieved a Certificate 2 in Vocational Education and Training (VET);

– 64% achieved a Certificate 2 in VET;

– 61% achieved an ATAR* of above 65;

– 28% achieved an ATAR* of above 90;

– 100% of First Nations students received their QCE and have entered into a sustainable future pathway, be that at university, TAFE, apprenticeship, or employment.

*ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admission Rank) replaces the OP (Overall Position), introduced by the QCAA in 2020.

Bellbird Park SSC
The new college’s first ever Year 12 graduation ceremony held at Bellbird Park State Secondary College last year. From left: Head of Year Lawrence Arnold, Deputy Principal Carla Pantano, Principal Michael West, and the two foundation college captains Fia and Benny. Image: Bellbird Park State Secondary College.

Student success

It is “extremely fulfilling” to see the positive impacts of his approach, Michael said.

“Student achievements and wins are a real highlight of my job as Principal.

“We have a vision at BPSSC to ensure that our students receive a year’s worth of progress for a year’s input.

“These achievements can be academic, sporting, culture or the arts, or even attendance gains.”

Last year, BPSCC’s foundation students from 2017 became its inaugural Year 12 graduates, themselves leading the way and inspiring future cohorts, Michael explained.

“I am exceptionally proud of the results for our very first Year 12 graduates.”

The school also launched an exciting new initiative last year for senior school students: the BPSSC ‘Teacher Guarantee’.

Through the Teacher Guarantee, BPSSC students who go on to study education are guaranteed placements, support, and future employment through the school.

“In brief, this initiative is to encourage our students to take up the wonderful profession of being a teacher,” Michael explained.

The BPSSC Teacher Guarantee:

– guarantees pre-service placements at BPSSC;

– guarantees support and mentoring from current BPSSC staff members throughout their study;

– guarantees students receive support to undertake a Teacher Aide job at BPSSC throughout their study;

– guarantees employment at BPSSC upon successfully graduating from university.

Teaching recognition

Michael has helped foster a culture whereby colleagues support each other, both personally and professionally, and are passionate and committed to helping students achieve their potential, no matter their starting point.

“My role as Principal is to relentlessly lead and develop a strong staff culture that prioritises continuous improvement of staff, through collective efficacy and intentional collaboration,” Michael said.

“Our staff frequently participate in staff observations, feedback, and coaching, to improve their skills.

“[They] continually share that this culture is a strength of the college and enhances the appeal for staff to seek employment at BPSSC. As a result we have ‘weathered the storm’ in regard to teacher shortages across Queensland and Australia.”

The results speak for themselves.

Michael and BPSSC were both nationally recognised at the Australian Education Awards in Sydney last year.

“In 2022, I was a finalist in the Queensland College of Teachers (QCT) TEACHX Awards, which recognises excellent leadership in a school.”

The school won both Australian Teacher of the Year for Ms Zainab Ali – whose STEAM program (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) receives hundreds of applications annually – and Special Education School of the Year for its programs designed to include and support students of differing needs.

This year, Michael has modified the student timetable to open up two hours each week for high-quality staff collaborative planning and professional learning.

In turn, this enables the school’s explicit improvement agenda of ‘every student receiving a C or better in all subjects’.

Michael also delivered a two-day professional development program last month to staff who are aspiring to become leaders.

“Excellent school leaders are fundamental to a high-quality education system and to the individual success of schools.”

So mentoring future leaders is “critical,” he said.

“I am very keen to give back to a system that has given me so much in my 20-plus years in education.”

Bellbird Park State Secondary College is a co-ed school for students in Years 7 to 12, located at 2 Alesana Drive, Bellbird Park.

For more information, visit the website at bellbirdparkssc.eq.edu.au or contact the school on 3819 7222.

2022 TEACHX accolades:

– Winner of the Special Education School of the Year;

– Winner of Australian Teacher of the Year;

– Excellence Award (finalist) for Australian School of the Year;

– Excellence Award (finalist) for Head of Department;

– Excellence Award (finalist) for Principal of the Year.

TEACHX award-winning teacher Ms Zainab Ali
Excellence Award finalist Ms Phoebe Parish.

Daniel Bouwmeester

Daniel was born in a mining town in New South Wales to Dutch and Welsh immigrants, before relocating to Logan City, where he attended Canterbury College for twelve years. He pursued his passion for music by completing a first-class honours degree at the University of Queensland (UQ), and later signed with a local record label. He has travelled the world from a young age, including a student exchange in rural France, a job working the ski lifts in Colorado, and visits to the islands of the South Pacific. After a six-year career in market research, Daniel returned to UQ to complete a Bachelor of Journalism and Arts dual degree, majoring in political science. His varied experiences at home and abroad have contributed to a passion for spreading good news while defending the truth buried inside complex societal paradigms.