Prairiewood High School
Location: South West Sydney
We are a comprehensive, co-educational high school of just over 1200 students situated in South West Sydney. The school serves a low socio-economic community with an ICSEA of 971. 79% of students are from a non-English speaking background and there are 60 academically selective students in each year group.
How has your school used its Gonski funding?
We have invested in building significant leadership capacity to meet our student's needs. A Deputy Principal Teaching and Learning, a second Head Teacher Wellbeing and Head Teacher Administration, as well as a significantly enhanced Learning Support faculty, have transformed teacher professional learning and provided personalised learning support for many students. We have increased the provision of school counselling services by more than 50%, employed 3 Community Liaison Officers and gained the services of a Wellbeing and Community Engagement Officer. We employ a qualified nurse as our School Clinician for three days a week and appointed a Scholarship Coordinator for two days a week. In addition, we use equity funding to provide free transport on school excursions on our school buses, fund educational programs such as Quicksmart and Mathletics and support leadership programs such as High Resolves and Step Up.
How has Gonski made a positive difference for students?
It's difficult to know where to start in articulating the impact this additional funding has had on our school community - in summary, it's massive. Being named by CESE last year as one of only 36 schools across the entire state (primary and secondary) as a High Value Add school is testimony to how additional funding has improved student outcomes right across the board. Top ATAR’S of 99.95 and 99.85 in the last two years indicate that gifted and hard working students can perform at the highest level when in a school environment that supports high expectations and teacher excellence - all supported by well targeted needs-based funding. Our reputation in the local community is excellent and growing largely due to extensive wellbeing provisions that ensure every student is noticed, cared for and their learning needs effectively met. Individual student scholarships from a variety of sources are of about $460 000 over the last four years, not only providing financial support for disadvantaged students but also providing a platform for their individual stories to be heard and responded to. Having the financial resources to support technology from Smartboards and laptops to STEAM initiatives serves to engage students in quality learning that may otherwise be denied them. The effective professional learning of staff supported by needs-based funding, including all teachers being trained in GERRIC (gifted and talented), Focus on Reading and TELL (Teaching English Language Learners) has had a significant effect on the quality of teaching and learning in our school.
What could your school do with Gonski funding in the future?
We continually evaluate the effectiveness of all our programs and initiatives and make adjustments based on that feedback. The ongoing building of leadership capacity has had enormous benefit to the school community and beyond and we would certainly see that as a priority going forward. The continuation of learning support and wellbeing services is vital to the health of our school community and we see the ongoing support for appropriate technology provision and the development of the essential collaborative and creative skill sets of our young people as crucial in preparing them for the future.