Albion Park High School

Location: Albion Park (Illawarra/South Coast)

Albion Park High is a medium-sized high school in the Illawarra with 800 students, this includes 50 support students and 16 students in an ED setting. We have 6% Aboriginal students but a very small NESB population. APHS has a FOEI of 115 which makes us a relatively disadvantaged high school.

How has your school used its Gonski funding?

In 2016 APHS received $700,000 (which includes all 8 loadings). After much community consultation to calculate student need we chose to spend widely crossing to as many areas of need as possible in order to improve connectedness and engagement. Just SOME of what we have initiated Include: Professional development of staff in high quality, research based programs, including HOW2learn which embeds a shared school understanding of quality teaching. We have mapped every year 7,8 and 9 student onto the literacy continuum to ensure personalised literacy learning. APHS now has a wide range of extension activities for students who would not otherwise have access including; debating and public speaking, drumming, dance, theatre and specialised gifted and talented activities. We have collectively developed PBL (project based learning) across the school in every faculty to ensure 21st-century learning skills are programmed, we employ an Indigenous tutor for the juniors and appropriately qualified teacher to support the seniors. We have created two very specialised alternative learning programs to improve the outcomes for the very disengaged students who have high needs. We have programs to improve attendance, retention, links with the university of Wollongong and co-coaching for staff.

How has Gonski made a positive difference for students?

Gonski funds have given us an ability to analyse student need at a micro level and personalise learning in a way we never could have previously. It has simply enabled us to purchase what we most need. All of our data is showing a slow steady improvement, including attendance, HSC results, Aboriginal students results including retention, NAPLAN, overall student learning engagement and offers of university placements. It takes time for change to occur, be embedded and see meaningful results.

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

Full GONSKI funding will allow us to continue the trajectory that we are currently on. We have great plans to embed even deeper the professional learning that all of the staff are involved in to best support students, and to further develop specialised student programs that have begun including REVs and SKILLS21. There will always be the need to place intensive support in for some students and this funding will enable us to do that earlier and with the most effectiveness. Individualisation of learning is what we aim for.

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