Principal, Evans River K-12 School
Our goal at Evans River K-12 is to give our students opportunities to develop the skills and knowledge they will need for life.
Schools in isolated regional areas like ours have a big challenge to deliver the same opportunities to students as those in cities or wealthier areas. Gonski funding is helping us close that gap and give our students the same opportunities for success.
We want to make sure that as many students as possible complete their HSC, or move from school into TAFE or work with a School to Employment Program Certificate.
We have a strong school community. In particular we are proud of the results of Aboriginal students who make up about 13 per cent of our student body. We have nine Aboriginal staff including an assistant principal, relieving assistant principal, head teacher and relieving head teacher. Aboriginal parents from other towns choose to send their children here because of our strong record in Aboriginal education.
But whatever we do is limited by the resources we have, which is why the extra Gonski funding has made such a difference – it has enabled us to expand the good things we are doing and introduce new opportunities.
Gonski funds programs across the school
The whole school community – teachers, parents and students – have a say in what we do with the money so we have a collective sense of ownership of what we’re doing as a school.
We have received almost $350,000 in Gonski funding this year which has allowed us to run or expand a significant number of engaging learning programs across our K-12 school.
The full six years of Gonski will enable us to fully realise the outcomes of these programs.
Everything we are doing is either about improving student results, or giving them the opportunity to extend themselves.
We are running additional literacy and numeracy programs. We are now able to use QuickSmart Numeracy which offers daily support for students and sees them sequentially improve their numerical skills. With QuickSmart you can easily measure and track student results and we are seeing real improvement.
Results lifting already
Our literacy programs In Kinder have resulted in 100 per cent of Kinder students meeting their Semester 1 benchmarks, and 80 per cent of Year 1 and 70 per cent of Year 2 meeting their end of year benchmarks, ahead of time.
We are beginning to strengthen students’ personal qualities through the new “Waratah Award” - a personal development program for students from Year 2 to Year 10. The Award develops a range of qualities including leadership, self-reliance and self-confidence through exercises in outdoor education, volunteering, environmental understanding and life organization – but there are a range of other strands in the Award as well.
We run a music program which allows students to learn how to play musical instruments, and unlock their musical abilities.
This is something that students at other schools might take for granted but it could not have happened without extra resources.
One of the programs we operate to engage students in school life is our “Green Team”. It is essentially for Year 9 students, and sees them building things around the school using a variety of equipment including a tractor, specialist hand tools and shovels.
They learn technical skills, as well as teamwork. This is a very successful program which has supported the eventual transition of students to traineeships, apprenticeships and work, most often involving further training through TAFE. The Gonski funding has helped us buy equipment and lets us have a teacher and a learning support officer to assist in running this program for one day each week.
What we could do with six years of Gonski
This is some of what we’re doing with Gonski, but it is only a taste of what’s possible if the full six years of funding comes to the school.
I’d like to expand our use of technology and go back to the idea of every student having their own device so we can incorporate technology into lessons. We received laptops for each child under the Digital Education Revolution program, but these are now outdated and we have been unable to replace the devices.
We also want to assign a Teaching and Learning Coordinator, which will give staff greater opportunities to collaborate and develop improved ways of teaching through professional learning partnerships with each other.
The vast majority of our students have not travelled outside the immediate rural area surrounding our school. Gonski will let us expand the range of excursions we offer students, including some with overnight travel, so they can experience more of the world and broaden their horizons.
Gonski means a fair go for kids
Gonski is the most important change in the way schools are funded in my time as a principal, because it recognises the students come from different places in life with different challenges.
It enables the people working most closely with the students to create the best learning environment, and it is delivering results.
I see Gonski as a very Australian idea, because it’s about giving every kid a fair go, regardless of their circumstances.
We need the federal government to ensure that the full six years of Gonski is delivered to schools. There are students with many talents at our school. For their future, and our nation’s future, they need the same opportunity to realise their potential, and contribute to society, as students in more affluent areas.
It’s our job as a school to make sure all our students can reach their potential and Gonski is helping us do that.