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LOW SES SCHOOL COMMUNITIES NATIONAL PARTNERSHIP CASE STUDY Narrandera High School Improving engagement and learning outcomes of Aboriginal students Reform areas All six reforms are evident in the School Plan. This case study highlights: Reform 3

School operational arrangements that encourage innovation and flexibility

Reform 4

Providing innovative and tailored learning opportunities

Reform 6

External partnerships with parents, other schools, businesses and communities and the provision of access to extended services (including through brokering arrangements)

Conclusions drawn from the situational analysis indicated that learning outcomes, attendance and engagement of Aboriginal students were below levels for other students in comparison to the region and the state. The recommendations of the situational analysis included strategies to increase engagement of and improve learning outcomes for Aboriginal students through a focus on literacy and numeracy. The school identified the need to target writing, spelling, grammar and punctuation and all aspects of numeracy with Aboriginal students in Years 7– 9. The recommendations also included celebrating student achievement, increasing community participation and developing an appreciation of the Wiradjuri culture.

The school

The initiative

Narrandera High School is a rural comprehensive secondary school of 300 students, 25% of whom are Aboriginal. It is located in the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area town of Narrandera in the Riverina region of NSW. The school provides a broad range of opportunities for students to demonstrate excellence and has a solid emphasis on a wholeschool approach to quality teaching and learning. Strong links have been forged with the local Aboriginal community and members of the community are active within the school.

The focus of this initiative is the provision of innovative school structures and processes to build the capacity of staff to teach literacy and numeracy across the curriculum and to include Aboriginal perspectives in all Key Learning Areas. Structures and processes also needed to be put in place to improve the attendance and engagement (or re-engagement) of Aboriginal students.

The Background In preparation for the Low SES School Communities National Partnership, the school undertook a rigorous situational analysis.

The Low SES School Communities National Partnership funding has enabled the school to employ additional executive and specialist staff, including an additional Deputy Principal, a generalist teacher, an English/Arts teacher and several part time teachers. The funding has also


facilitated closer links with TAFE and community organisations.

students by local business personnel.

The additional staffing has enabled the following major strategies: personal and professional support for Aboriginal staff to gain accreditation with the NSW Institute of Teachers a partnership with the local TAFE and university to broaden the curriculum for Stage 5 students a partnership with the local TAFE for the school-based Wiradjuri language program (Certificate I and II), for Years 7-9 and the establishment of the “Boys’ Shed” artefact workshop targeted professional learning for all staff in the teaching of literacy and numeracy in a team-based model called Target Teams intensive literacy tutoring for students needing support, including a peer tutor reading program for Aboriginal students implementation of a literacy program with a particular emphasis on writing, targeting small groups of Year 7 students, twice a week for ten weeks with a teacher from the Literacy Team implementation of a Year 6/7 Numeracy Extension program involving the community through Laptops for Learning workshops, transition evenings, and hands on high school sessions to improve parent awareness and skills the establishment of the Learning Hub, an after school learning centre development of innovative middle school programs with the local community of schools including a cross sectoral extension/transition program with primary schools enhancement of the existing strong links with the local Aboriginal community facilitation of mentoring of Aboriginal

Initial success Reforms to improve the attendance and retention of Aboriginal students, the provision of a relevant and engaging curriculum, interagency collaboration and targeted professional learning have been critical to improved outcomes to date. The 2010 evaluation showed improvements in the NAPLAN reading and writing growth rate for targeted Year 9 Aboriginal students and in the literacy skills of Aboriginal students undertaking the Certificate 1 and 2 Wiradjuri language course. In addition, all teachers now understand the need for a consistent focus on the explicit teaching of literacy and numeracy skills in all classrooms. There was an increase of 5% in Aboriginal student attendance from 2009-2010 and a 5% increase in retention rates from Years 10-11 which exceeded the school’s target. 100% of Aboriginal students enrolled in Year 10, 2009 returned to school for Year 11, 2010. This was a significant achievement as the previous averages were 40-65% from 20072009. The evidence also suggests that there is a strong focus on working in a partnership with the home and the community to improve the school and the learning outcomes of students.


Evaluation and Monitoring The success of the initiative will be measured by comparative data from the analysis of school plan targets. Comparative data 2011-2014 will be analysed for all students, including Aboriginal students, in NAPLAN literacy, numeracy, HSC achievement, attendance and retention. Monitoring will also include: 2011-2014 school community feedback from students, parents, teachers and community liaison teacher use of student Personal Learning Plans to guide instruction staff involvement in Target Teams success of the Learning Hub after school learning centre student welfare data including reductions in short and long suspensions and other behaviour interventions a staff survey regarding literacy and numeracy that addresses the understanding of demands and necessary curriculum modifications a negotiated classroom observation program integrated into TARS/EARS process ongoing evaluation of faculty programs to ensure Aboriginal Education strategies are incorporated. Progress will be reported in the Evaluation Report and the Annual School Report.

Relevant research Dinham, S. 2008. How to get your school moving and improving. ACER Press, Camberwell, Victoria. http://shop.acer.edu.au/acershop/product/A4066BK Fullan, M. 2001. Leading in a culture of change, Jossey Bass, San Francisco Hattie, J. A. C. Visible learning – A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement Routledge, NY. 2009 Australian Government What Works. The Work program – helps schools plan and take action to improve the educational outcomes for Australian Indigenous students. http://www.whatworks.edu.au/dbAction.do?cmd =homePage Interview with Mr Yvon Chambers Deputy Principal (National Partnerships)


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