Wilcannia High School
Wilcannia is a small central school in remote far western NSW in a region that is one of the most disadvantaged in the state. The school is part of the Connected Communities Strategy. Most of its students are Aboriginal and come from the local township. It has recently refurbished all its primary classrooms and the Library so that it has large, bright and engaging learning spaces with up-to-date technology and resources. The grounds are large and well- tended, with vegetable gardens and grassed playing spaces. For secondary students there is a large, multipurpose hall and new equipment for Industrial Technology and Hospitality. The school is part of the remote access program for secondary students who complete courses in association with Ivanhoe and Menindee schools. There is a new Preschool which has been built to cater for young children prior to entering kindergarten.
How has your school used its Gonski funding?
To enable our preschool and primary school students to travel to school, the school has purchased a bus which collects the students each morning and takes them home each afternoon. We also pay for the driver from our funding. Additionally, the school provides breakfast, morning tea of fruit and a healthy lunch for all our students each day. The canteen lady is paid from Gonski funding as well. To support our students in the classroom with their learning, we employ additional Aboriginal SLSOs from the local community. We have been able to place some teachers on Higher Duties which has enabled us to attract and retain more experienced teachers in this remote town. Remaining funds have been used also to improve the school's resources.
How has Gonski made a positive difference for students?
Having the bus collect students has enabled many students that are too young to walk to school, attend school. The meals provided by the canteen have improved the health of our children which gives them a good start for learning. The assistance in the classroom from SLSOs has increased student understanding of their work and their levels of achievement. Being able to appoint teachers to higher duties has attracted more skilled executive, which is needed to help the school move forward and to assist improve teaching and learning in the school.
What could your school do with Gonski funding in the future?
We will continue the programs relating to student well-being and attendance. Additionally, retaining highly skilled teachers on higher duties will allow us to increase the quality of teaching across the school and hence improve the opportunities for our children. I would use Gonski funding to employ additional specialised teachers, which are currently not part of our staffing agreement. This is vital to offer our students are wide selection of courses that meet their needs. We would use remaining funding to provide experiences for our students that they cannot presently afford, to help them set high goals for their future.