Gonski lifts achievement

HSC scores at St John’s Park High School in south-west Sydney have soared thanks to targeted literacy and leadership programs, and improved learning spaces and IT.


St Johns’ Park High School is a school in south-west Sydney which has used Gonski funding to deliver strong academic results for students.

The school has high numbers of students from low-income families, and over 90 per cent are from non-English speaking backgrounds.

Principal Sue French says Gonski means the school is able to ensure its students are not disadvantaged at school and get the guidance and support they need to reach their potential.

Boosting literacy and academic achievement

St John’s Park received three years of national partnerships funding before it got its first Gonski funding in 2014.

That means some students are benefitting from five years of extra programs which include:

  • MultiLit programs for students struggling to read, so that they don’t fall further behind.

  • A speech therapist who see 80 students each week, because when students gain control over their speech they gain control over their learning.

  • Upgraded information technology and teachers trained in how to use it.

  • Innovative, student-centred teaching that lets students solve real-life problems and interact with their local community.

  • Revamped learning spaces – some of the schools facilities, like its industrial arts area, had not been upgraded for 40 years.

The school has also been able to invest in student leadership and programs to increase confidence and resilience. At present about 200 students are involved.

Ms French says that this work is especially important for low-SES students, and the increased confidence flows into their academic results.

HSC results through the roof

The school’s academic record since extra funding began has been impressive.

In 2014, they had four times as many students scoring highly in their HSCs than in 2013, with twelve ATARs over 90 and five over 99.

The school has a 91 per cent retention rate to Year 12 and 146 of its 200 graduates received university offers.

Six year of Gonski will deliver more for students

From 2016 the school will introduce Individual Learning Plans for all students in Year 7 and Year 11, and from 2017 for students in Years 8 and 12. This is a resource-intensive process but hugely beneficial for students.

It will continue to upgrade its out-of-date facilities and increase the number of students who take part in leadership programs.

They will be reducing class sizes with the goal of having no more than 22 students in each class.

An Occupational Therapist and a school nurse will be employed to improve student health and well-being.

Extra staff will be employed to reduce the workload of current teachers and increase their ability to collaborate, with senior teachers working with junior teachers to lift the quality of teaching.

Ms French says the school as only halfway through a change of culture and learning styles, and says it will need the full six years of Gonski to be able to offer its students the quality teaching and support they need to excel.

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