Surf Science

Yesterday I had the pleasure of delivering on an election commitment of the McGowan Government.Royalties for Regions…

Posted by David Templeman MLA on Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Surf Science is a flagship program at John Tonkin College which offers a focus on Marine and Outdoor Education to selected students from years 7, 8 and 9. The Surf Science Program is perfect for students who have a passion for the outdoors and environment. It is an academically challenging pathway, with an integrated curriculum developed across English, Mathematics, Society and Environment, Science, Physical Education and Outdoor Education.

Students within the Specialist Surf Science Program have expert teaching within each of the curriculum disciplines and enjoy the support of many professional and community based organisations, including Coast Care WA, St John’s Ambulance, Mandurah Make Place, Eco Ocean, AQUA, the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Curtin University, Murdoch University, the City of Mandurah, Peel Harvey Catchment Council, Mandurah Environment and Heritage Group and Tangaroa Blue.

Year 10 students who graduate from the program continue to build on their strong self-management skills and Marine and Outdoor Education knowledge while having the opportunity to choose other specialised course in readiness for senior school.

The program prepares students for an ATAR pathway, developing skills such as effective research and study habits. Students who choose not to continue with an ATAR pathway will be well equipped to complete at high levels, general courses and endorsed programs such as Vocational Education and Training qualifications.

Surf Science students work in outstanding educational facilities throughout the college and community, including the purpose built John Tonkin College Marine and Maritime Centre at Dawesville. They have access to well-equipped Science Laboratories, IT ready classrooms, and a bus to enable field work such that the marine/coastal environment forms an extended classroom in which our students work and learn.

‘The Surf Science program is really unique to the area. We live here and many of our students have grown up on the coast so they have a passion for the science and biology of the sea.’

Che Heeley, Deputy Principal


Selection Process

Access to the Surf Science program for selected students is based on academic performance, interest and appropriately developed self-management skills. An interview process may be used in determining student suitability for the program.

Application achievement guidelines:

  • Achievement with at least a C grade achievement in all subjects. Higher grades will be best suited for the program (confirmed by final report).
  • NAPLAN results reflecting achievement at standard. Higher NAPLAN results will be best suited for the program.
  • Strong records of positive and appropriate behaviour. Regular attendance.
  • Leadership qualities such as Student Councillors, Faction Captains and Head Boy/Girl.
  • References from staff.
  • Strong interest and involvement in water based, environmental and/or local community activities.
  • Satisfactory swimming ability.

Program Outline

Year 7, 8 and 9 students are taught the WA Curriculum in all subject areas, however, they focus on Outdoor and Marine Science Education. Students participate in Swimming, Sailing, Snorkelling, Kayaking, Surfing and many other water based activities. Students attend excursions and camps to enhance these skills and obtain various water qualifications throughout their years in Surf Science including Bronze Medallion, First Aid and a Skipper’s ticket.

Marine Science is a focus within the Surf Science program and students have 1-2 lessons each week in this area. The students enhance their knowledge of marine life, environmental conservation and become actively involved in Marine Science projects such as Estuary Guardians fin guide and dolphin forums, Fishing line bins, Tangaroa Blue marine debris, Tree planting and the Shorebird and Black Bream programs.

Students in the Surf Science program have a keen interest in outdoor recreation, environmental conservation and contributing to the community. They are strongly encouraged to choose elective courses based on their interest. This includes Bushrangers, Marine and Outdoor Education and the Duke of Edinburgh Award.

‘I like how you can go out of school but you still get to learn about new things, it gets my mind off school work and all the stress.’

Makayla McKimm Surf Science Student

‘The Surf Science program has encouraged me to broaden my mind a lot and to be more engaged with my peers around me.’

Mackenzie Tune Surf Science Student

‘Surf Science gave us the opportunity to learn skills that are different to what we learn in a class. We have a practical based program which helps us learn in other ways’

Shian Walker PE Student

‘We have a strong environmental ethic here at John Tonkin. We organise bins so that fishing lines can be collected and we maintain and empty the bins as a part of our stewardship programme.’

Che Heeley, Deputy Principal