Narara Valley High School

Location: Narara Valley High School is a comprehensive high school near Gosford in the Central Coast region of New South Wales.

It has a diverse student population of around 1,100, with a third of the school’s students in the two lowest SES quartiles. Indigenous students make up 6 per cent of the school population and a further 6 per cent of students are from non-English speaking backgrounds.

How Narara Valley High School has used Gonski funding

Narara Valley focussed on improving the professional learning of teachers and staff by introducing the Quality Teaching Rounds model developed by the University of Newcastle’s School of Education. Teachers worked together to develop a shared approach to good teaching practices across the school, especially in writing, literacy and numeracy.

An extra learning and support teacher was employed to support and guide the team along with two additional student learning support officers trained in literacy and writing skills. Together they work with small groups across the school.

The school was also able to create smaller classes in Years 7 and 8 than the system staffing formula allows through ‘topping-up’ funding above the school staffing entitlement. They also introduced the Positive Behaviour for Learning model, a comprehensive, integrated whole-school approach to student wellbeing and behaviour.

How Gonski funding has made a difference for students

As a result of the Gonski funding, there has been an across-the-board increase in the number of students achieving at or above National Minimum Standards, with positive gains made in all Year 9 NAPLAN results. The school’s averages have risen to that of similar schools and writing has significantly improved. There have been strong improvements for Year 9 Aboriginal students as well as retention rates of senior students completing the HSC. However, the impact on low SES students has been the most significant. These learners are now measuring above the level of similar students at other schools due to the strong focus on wellbeing and instructional feedback.

What the continuation of Gonski funding means to Narara Vallley High

Principal Michael Smith says the collaborative teaching through professional learning approach has been so successful in building reading and writing skills that the school plans to extend this approach to STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects in 2017. Ongoing Gonski funding will be integral to allowing this to happen.

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