Merrylands High School

Location: Merrylands, suburban Sydney, NSW

Merrylands High School, a comprehensive high school in western Sydney, has an enrolment of about 720 students from a diverse range of socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds. 80% of students are from low-income backgrounds, and about 70% are from non-English-speaking backgrounds with more than 50 different cultures represented, including Arabic, Turkish, Afghani, Hindi, Pacific Islander (Maori, Tongan and Samoan), and a small number of Aboriginal students. About 8% of the student are refugees, with a further 8% identifying as having “refugee-like experiences”.

How Merrylands High School has used Gonski funding

Merrylands HS received about $500,000 in Gonski funding over 2014-2016. Funds were used to target student engagement, attendance and learning outcomes through the creation of teams comprising skilled personnel to work across areas identified as most in need of improvement, introducing a ‘scaffold approach’ to skill development, confidence and individual learning plans for students , expanding the range of tutorials, targeted programs, and partnerships with universities and the community. Programs to support students’ social skills, resilience and emotional intelligence were offered in conjunction with local providers, and all staff were offered access to an extensive professional learning program.

How Gonski funding has made a difference for students

Since the extension of the Attendance and Engagement, Learning and Engagement, and Senior Leadership teams, the culture of what is expected from students, and their achievement levels, has transformed significantly. Ongoing improvements in attendance, increased levels of student engagement, greater numbers achieving their HSC, and a significant increase in the number of students offered university placements are demonstrated in the school’s data, with the school on track to continue its achievements.

What Merrylands High School could do with Gonski funding in the future

Without the funding, adequate staffing for the teams that have delivered results would be in jeopardy. Says Principal Lila Mularcyzk, “The full six years of Gonski would allow us to hit a tipping point, where the culture we are trying to build will become self-sustaining.”

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