At Beenleigh State High School in Brisbane Gonski funding has provided new programs and an engagement strategy which has increased student attendance and results.
Beenleigh High School is in a low-SES area of Brisbane where realising the potential of students is an ongoing challenge.
Extra funding has helped the school better engage students and get them to increase their academic performance.
Principal Matt O’Hanlon said the school had focused on student engagement because if students weren’t attending school there was little the school could do.
He said the school did not want students’ postcodes to determine their future and Gonski funding was about making sure they had the opportunity to reach their potential.
Gonski funding improving student engagement
Beenleigh was a major beneficiary of the national partnerships program from 2011-2013, and has continued to receive extra funding through Gonski.
The school has hired extra staff to focus on student engagement and develop a strategy to lift retention. This recognises that every student has their own issues and the school has to look at the individual reasons which stop students participating at school.
It has invested in literacy and numeracy support for students who were struggling, to ensure they were able to keep up academically.
Students have also benefited from extra programs and excursions, so that they get exposed to opportunities they might not get access to otherwise.
Better engagement, better results.
As a result of the engagement programs, there has been a decrease in School Disciplinary Absences and the Year 12 retention rate has lifted to match the state average.
The school is also recording a high ‘value add’ to NAPLAN results, with an increase in improvement between Year7 and 9 which is far above the state average.
Enrolment at the school has increased as more parents from outside the school’s catchment area decide to send their children there.
Big Plans for the Future
Mr O’Hanlon says that there are a lot more things the school wants to do for its students – but it will need six years of Gonski to put them in place.
He wants the school to expand its engagement strategies and its literacy and numeracy support.
The school has many students with disability who get no funded support because they don’t fit funding criteria. Gonski will be used to give them the individual assistance they need to make the most of school.
Professional learning for teachers will enhance their skills and benefit students.
Mr O’Hanlon says extra Gonski funding can turn the aspirations of disadvantaged schools into reality.