2017 Victorian Education Excellence Awards — finalists announced

​‘I’ve seen a dramatic improvement in the desire of students to participate in music at Chaffey, and the confidence to perform in front of their peers.’

Luke Peak passionately believes in the power of music to transform young lives.

Through a revolutionary approach to music education, the music coordinator at Chaffey Secondary College in Mildura is helping his students tune in to their own creativity, resilience and leadership. His commitment, dedication and achievements have made him a finalist in the Victorian Education Excellence Awards.

The awards recognise those who go above and beyond the call of duty to deliver outstanding achievements for students and government schools overall.

Mr Peak has been named a finalist in the Outstanding Secondary Teacher Award category in recognition of his work introducing the musical education approach from the UK called Musical Futures.

Working with Musical Futures Australia, he developed a program that allows students to learn the songs they love, and be treated as musicians, no matter what their music ability or experience.

Tuning in

‘The students rehearse, improvise and perform on a range of instruments in a social and collaborative setting,’ Mr Peak explains.

‘It’s called the Informal Music Learning Model and mimics the real-life practices of popular musicians.

‘I’ve seen a dramatic improvement in the desire of students to participate in music at Chaffey, and the confidence to perform in front of their peers.

‘Many students who may not have participated in a traditional music program have achieved high levels of musical skill and confidence through this approach and have continued their music studies into VCE and beyond.’

Thornbury Primary School — finalist in the Outstanding Koorie Education category

‘It is embedded in the culture of Thornbury Primary School to show respect to all cultures by first respecting the land of our First Nations people.’

At Thornbury Primary School, class visitors are greeted with ‘Kii or ‘Womenjika’, which mean Hi or Welcome. When a visitor leaves the room, they all say ‘Triganin, meaning See you later.

Thornbury Primary School, as one of only two schools in Melbourne to teach Woiwurrung, the language of the Wurundjeri people, recognises that language plays a key role in the culture of the school.

In recognition of its commitment and dedication, the school has been named a finalist in the Outstanding Koorie Education category of the awards.

Embedding culture

Principal Leon Bell says students spend at least an hour a week learning to use the language to communicate and understand its context to the culture of the Wurundjeri people.

‘At Thornbury Primary School, we aim to break the barriers to learning by building confidence in the school system out in the community,’ he says.

‘We create an environment of respect and inclusion that recognises and celebrates cultural identity. We are proud to have 15 per cent of our students identify as indigenous.

‘This year, we have been working to implement the trial of the Koorie Inclusive School Wide Positive Behaviour Support that has involved consultation with local community groups.

‘It is embedded in the culture of Thornbury Primary School to show respect to all cultures by first respecting the land of our First Nations people.’

Victorian Education Excellence Awards

Educators are at the heart of our future success in education and a key driver in building Victoria as the Education State.

Twenty-eight passionate finalists, both individuals and teams, have been shortlisted for awards from the teachers, principals, business managers and support staff in government schools across the state.

All are in the running to win up to $220,000 worth of professional development prizes.

Winners across nine award categories will be announced during a prestigious awards evening at Melbourne’s Regent Plaza Ballroom on Friday 27 October 2017.

The Inclusive Education Award — one of nine categories in the new streamlined Awards — reflects the Victorian Government’s commitment to make schools fairer and more inclusive for students with disabilities and special needs.

The Victorian Education Excellence Awards reflect Victoria as the Education State by showcasing and celebrating excellence in our schools, and promoting and sharing that excellence across the system.

For more information about the awards and for a full list of finalists, visit      
education.vic.gov.au/veea