Sanctuary Point Public School
Location: Sanctuary Point Public School is located on the shores of St Georges Basin about 200 kilometres south of Sydney.
The school has more than 520 students, most of whom are from low-SES backgrounds, with 85 per cent of the school’s students in the lowest two SES quartiles, and 59 per cent in the lowest. There are about 100 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and around 40 students in special needs support classes.
How Sanctuary Point Public School has used Gonski funding
The school used its additional funding to address significant challenges around student attendance, engagement, aspiration and resilience, which was impeding student performance. For example, the school’s research shows that a substantial number of students who are underachieving academically, have attendance rates below 90 per cent.
The school began by establishing several innovative programs to foster student wellbeing and community engagement including a breakfast program and the ‘Sanctuary Point Dollars’ scheme. Under the scheme families are assisted with educational costs such as uniforms, lunches and excursions. For every hour a parent volunteers in the school – listening to students read, working in the garden, the canteen or the library – they receive five Sanctuary Point dollars towards these costs. A full-time family support employee was employed to work with individual families, staff and community organisations.
How Gonski funding has made a difference for students
Gonski funding has led to a major growth of parent and community engagement with the school. Principal Jeff Ward says that seven years ago, before the National Partnerships and Gonski needs-based funding, the low-SES Sanctuary Point community could have been characterised as a ‘heads down, hoodies up’ community but now the surge in pride in the school and the community through the school’s investment in ‘whole of community’ initiatives has led to it becoming ‘hoodies off, heads up’.
What the continuation of Gonski funding means to Sanctuary Point Public School
Student attainment at Sanctuary Point Public School, has improved and school attendance rates are now close to the NSW state average, however the process of attacking complex, entrenched problems such as parent-condoned absenteeism amongst some families remains a problem and can only be improved with ongoing Gonski funding.