Gonski helps disadvantaged kids

Paralowie R-12 School in northern Adelaide has used Gonski to provide individual support to students with disability or learning difficulty and lift their results.


Paralowie R-12 is a school of 1300 students in a disadvantaged area of the northern suburbs of Adelaide. In the past many of its students would have gone on to work in local factories, but these jobs are disappearing and the school needs to prepare its students for the modern workplace.

Principal Peter McKay says that the school has used its first year Gonski funding to improve results for students with disability or learning difficulty and that future funding can spread the benefits across the rest of the school.

More support for struggling students

Mr McKay said the school decided to use its $314,000 Gonski funding in 2014 to focus on lifting literacy and academic results for its students with disability or learning difficulty.

Like many schools in low-SES areas, Paralowie has high numbers of students with disability. While the school had previously received some extra funding for those students, it was never enough to meet their needs.

The school was able to offer extra in-class support through teacher’s aides, individual learning plans and extra programs with a focus on literacy for these students.

Reducing the size of the groups that these students were working in could only be done with extra resources and was crucial for improving their results.

Immediate lift in Literacy

Mr McKay said that there had been improvements in these students NAPLAN results but the school was also using PAT testing programs, Running Records and Literacy Pro to determine how students were improving.

With Literacy Pro an increase of 50 lexile points in a year is considered appropriate, but once the school put the extra support in place students were regularly raising  their scores by 150 points, with some recording increases of up to 300 points.

Because literacy is the basis of everything else students do, students who received extra support were more engaged and successful in other subjects.

Six years of Gonski means all students will benefit

Mr McKay says the school had shown it could turn extra resources into results, but it needed the full six years of Gonski to spread the benefits across the entire school.

The school wants to bring in new programs to challenge students who are doing well and stretch them academically, and a broader range of subjects so students can pursue their interests.

The school has raised its Year 12 completion rate from 38 per cent to over 90 per cent in recent years, but wants to keep expanding its VET pathways and job programs to make sure every child can leave the school with a purpose.

The school also wants to invest in professional development to lift the quality of its teaching and ensure that what it does is relevant to its students.

Mr McKay says that without the full six years of Gonski funding the school won’t be able to build on its success and give all of its students the opportunity to reach their potential.

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