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Mullumbimby High School

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Location: NSW far north coast

Mullumbimby High School is a comprehensive Years 7- 12 school situated in a diverse community on the far North Coast of NSW. The school has an ICSEA of 1000 with 28% of our families in the lowest socio-economic quartile. We have a very committed and collaborative staff supported by an active P&C and community. We have fostered a very strong relationship with our Aboriginal families and community. The students are socially aware, engaged and want to learn. They are active participants in decision making processes across the school.

How has your school used its Gonski funding?

Gonski funding has made a significant difference across a range of programs in the school. Three of these programs are:

1. Enhancing numeracy skills- In 2016 the University of Technology partnered with our school, adding funding to our Gonski funding, to implement a Numeracy Action Research project. Year 7 teachers and Stage 6 Science teachers participated in an ongoing program of professional learning workshops to develop their skills in teaching numeracy across a range of subject areas. The workshops were presented by University of Technology and Griffith University professors.

2. Focus on Literacy - Another significant focus in 2016 was on enhancing students writing and literacy skills. This was a multi-pronged approach. Over the past two years, the school has adopted a whole school approach to the teaching of writing. Gonski funding was in 2016 and again this year to employ a teacher with a specialised knowledge of teaching writing two days a week. The teacher works professionally with staff and with students in classrooms. In addition, every faculty reviewed programs and assessment tasks to ensure the explicit teaching of writing and literacy was occurring across the curriculum. Outstanding writing workshops allowed our students and students from our partner primary schools to enhance their creating writing skills. All of our Year 7 & 8 students have been mapped against the Literacy Continuum so that teachers know at what level each individual student is. In addition, the continuum is being used to monitor the progress of each student.

3. Corroboree transition and Deadly Dancers program - The Deadly Dancers troupe is now comprised of over 65 Indigenous students from Mullumbimby High School, Brunswick Heads Public School, Ocean Shores Public School, and Mullumbimby Public School. Each year Aboriginal Elders Scott Sentance and Dhinawan teach traditional dance and culture during a month long Corroboree program that culminates in traditional dance performances at NAIDOC Week assemblies held at all participating schools, at other school events and at a number of community events. Gosnki funding is used to fund this outstanding Indigenous transition program.

How has Gonski made a positive difference for students?

Numeracy Action Research project - Before and after testing has shown that the teaching strategies implemented have made a difference to student outcomes. Teachers’ skills in explicitly teaching numeracy have been significantly enhanced and the strategies have been embedded in teaching and learning programs.

Literacy Focus- The schools results in the writing section of NAPLAN have improved significantly between 2014 and 2016. In 2014, only 12% of the Year 7 group achieved a band 8 or above and only 2% achieved results in the top band. 33% of this same group of students achieved a band 8 or above in the 2016 NAPLAN. 13% achieved results in the very top bands. NAPLAN is only one indicator of the success of our focus on enhancing student outcomes in literacy but it does illustrate that we are on the right track.

Corroboree program and Deadly Dancers - Students have made huge improvements in their engagement, learning and attendance after being involved in this program. Our students develop a sense of belonging to a school that values and recognises their culture. In 2016 our school hosted the North Coast Aboriginal Education Awards. It was a wonderful event showcasing the talents of our students and students from other North Coast schools. Our school was recognised with the Outstanding School Award. This award is presented to a school that has a proven record of effective school planning and practices that have resulted in outstanding results for Aboriginal students. I am immensely proud of the students, parents, staff and com-munity members whose hard work and passion have been acknowledged by this award. In addition, at the Byron Shire NAIDOC Week awards Scott Sentance was recognised for his contribution as an Aboriginal Community Leader and for his work in Aboriginal Education programs both at Mullumbimby High and in our Shire. His sons, Logan and Coen, were recognised for their dancing skills and Olivia O’Sullivan for her involvement in cultural programs.

What could your school do with Gonski funding in the future?

Further enhance our focus on developing Literacy and numeracy skills of staff and students to ensure we meet the Premier's target of all students achieving a minimum standard in Literacy and numeracy to achieve a HSC. Build on the work already being achieved in the school around Aboriginal Education. Continue enhancing our transition programs. Further develop staff and student leadership capacity.

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