Minimbah State School, north of Brisbane, has used Gonski to lift literacy through more resources and improving the quality of its teaching.
Minimbah State School has focused on boosting literacy for the students at the school, which has a high number of low-SES students and received $270,000 in Gonski funding in 2015.
Principal Sean Bennett says Gonski means the school has been able to invest in more resources and quality teaching and has developed a school culture of success and pride in its achievement.
He says that for the first time the school has had the resources to implement a full program to improve literacy and they will be able to expand what they are doing over the full six years of Gonski funding.
Gonski driving better literacy
The school’s key focus has been on improving literacy, through raising the quality of teaching and the amount of support children are getting in class.
The school brought a pedagogical specialist in for three days of intensive literacy training for all staff – so all were on the same reading program. Mr Bennett says teachers are now more confident and able to provide higher quality lessons.
The school has been able to use the “Jolly Phonics” program to increase reading ability and is also working with Flinders University expert Anne Bayetto from, on strategies to improve reading.
Gonski means the school is able to employ more Teacher’s Aides and has built a bank of volunteers who can assist with classes.
In addition the school has run hearing tests for every child from Prep to Year 3, and vision screening for every Year 3 child.
Mr Bennett says that two-thirds of children have some hearing or vision issue that needs addressing. Most are not serious but some are already reducing their ability to learn and the school helps parents of those children to find the right support and treatment.
Teacher’s Aides have been taught to identify and address speech problems, so children with speech difficulties can get early support.
The school is also running Gifted and Talented activities in Mathematics, Science and Robotics that they could not have run without Gonski resources, but which are increasing children’s engagement and love of learning.
Results speak for themselves
The literacy program has targeted reading for Prep-Year 3s with impressive results.
Within six months of the reading program starting, students were recording between nine months and two years of progress.
Improvement has been particularly strong in Years 1 and 2 – where students are laying the groundwork for their future learning.
Mr Bennett says parents are taking ownership of what the school is doing and talking about the great reading results their kids are getting.
Plans to extend programs making a difference
Reading is only the beginning. The school will roll out similar programs for writing in 2016, and then numeracy after that. They also want to offer support to older students who are struggling with literacy or numeracy.
Mr Bennett says that continuing professional development is also important because it’s teachers who make the difference to kids, and it’s training that makes the difference to teachers.
Without the full six years of Gonski funding the school will struggle to be able to build on the foundations already laid.
He says the students at Minimbah deserve the best possible start to their schooling, and Gonski funding will make sure they can get it.