Cairns West State School

Location: Suburban Cairns, far north Queensland

Cairns West State School is a primary school that serves three suburbs with the highest density of public housing in Queensland. Its enrolment of 730 culturally-diverse and complex-needs students are almost all from low-income backgrounds, and less than 9% have English as their first language. Many students speak more than one language, and most are from non-English-speaking backgrounds - 70% Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, 10% Cook Islander, 12% Bhutanese and North African, together with a number of Hmong, Nepalese and Sudanese students.

How Cairns West State School has used Gonski funding

In the period 2014-2016, CWSS received $1,740,000 in National Partnership Program (NPP) and Gonski funding. This has been used to maintain and extend programs commenced under the NPP – explicit school-wide approaches to improve teaching & learning, increase student engagement, well-bring and attendance, and build community. Strategies to achieve these objectives have included building staff skills and knowledge in a best-practice and effective approaches to reading, writing and numeracy; regular review of student performance data; individually case-managing all students and providing support identified students; and greater engagement with families and the school community to develop parents’ skills in assisting learning.

How Gonski funding has made a difference for students

More students are attending school more often, and they’re showing a greater rate of improvement in their learning and engagement with more students reaching NAPLAN year level benchmarks in reading. A Head of Student Services position manages new enrolments and tracks attendance and Year 6 transition to secondary school, while a Community Participation Officer supports partnership-building between parents and the school. A Head of Equity and Inclusion supports the development of individual curriculum for at-risk students, a pedagogy coach works across the school with teachers and school leaders, and a third Deputy Principal engaged from 2017 will drive consistency in school curriculum & pedagogy practices.

What the continuation of Gonski funding means to Cairns West State School

Continuation of Gonksi funding will mean the school can continue its programs, says Principal Michael Hansen, allowing the school to “more effectively plan for future implementation of strategies that mitigate the social disadvantage experienced every day by students and families attending the school. It would go a long way to levelling the playing fields for our students and teachers.”

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