Year 12 results for Indigenous students at Le Fevre High School in Adelaide have lifted after Gonski investment in one-to-one support, literacy and cultural programs.
Le Fevre High School is a century-old school in the western suburbs of Adelaide which has a student body which is 20 per cent Aboriginal. Historically, Aboriginal students had rarely completed Year 12 at the school, but in recent years Le Fevre has begun a series of programs to engage them and ensure they were able to benefit from education.
The school has used Gonski funding to boost these programs and has seen a significant increase in the number of Aboriginal students completing Year 12 and going on to further education.
Principal Rob Shepherd says that Gonski funding has allowed the school to start new programs which benefit all students, and to continue existing programs as temporary funding sources dried up. They have been able to devote personnel to Aboriginal students ensuring that they get the support they need and expand the options that are available to them post-school.
The school has strong links to industry in South Australia including being a Future Trade Skills schools and a Maritime High School with a focus on high level maths, science and IT skills. With Gonski funding Aboriginal students are better able to take advantage of these opportunities.
Targeted support for Aboriginal students
The school is employing Aboriginal Education Workers and other support staff with its Gonski funding who can offer one-to-one support to Aboriginal students. This gives them the chance to overcome any barriers which are stopping them from succeeding at school, and address any issues with their learning.
The school is also using Gonski funding to help it participate in the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience program, run in conjunction with the University of South Australia. This program exposes students to university and links them with Indigenous university students. The school runs a Literacy Intervention program aimed at targeting and improving Year 8 students who are behind. Year 8 is the year where the gaps in performance are biggest and students are at a high risk of becoming disengaged from school. While this benefits all students at risk it is particularly important for ensuring Aboriginal students remain motivated.
Le Fevre has made an effort to embrace Aboriginal culture and has taught the Kaurna language to students. Mr Shepherd says that teaching Kaurna encourages price in Aboriginal culture and identity and helps students feel they belong at the school.
Year 12 retention improved
Le Fevre has gone from a school where very few Aboriginal students successfully completed Year 12 to one where the majority attempt it, and the vast majority of these pass successfully, continuing on to TAFE, traineeships or university courses.
This is a huge change and will have lifelong benefits for those students.
Mr Shepherd says that the school intends to use its future Gonski funding to expand opportunities for all students and ensure that they are well prepared for work.
He says that academic success for Aboriginal students is linked strongly to their well-being and their feeling of being valued by the school.
To do this properly requires an investment in resources that recognises Aboriginal students often face barriers others don’t and which can offer individual support to students who need it.
Without the full six years of Gonski the school will not be able to extend these successful programs to ensure all Aboriginal students can benefit from the opportunities the school offers.