As we continue to celebrate NAIDOC week, today CEP is shining a light on some of the exceptional rural Victorian schools doing great things to lift education outcomes among Indigenous students.
These schools are finalists in the Outstanding Koorie Education category of the Victorian Education Awards, with winners to be announced next week.
Swan Hill Primary | Integrating Family, Culture and Learning
Of the 505 students at Swan Hill Primary School, 14 per cent identify as being of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander background.
The school is now a finalist in the Victorian Education Awards, acknowledging the improved academic results of these students, as well as the school’s unwavering commitment to developing Indigenous cultural understanding.
The school says the Marrung Aboriginal Education Plan (2016-2026) has underpinned its Koorie engagement success, as well as its strong focus on student wellbeing, and the appointment of an Indigenous Koorie Officer as an Educational Support.
The school has a firm focus on analysing student achievement data to measure the impact of evidence-based practices, and this has resulted in a significant and sustained improvement in academic outcomes for Koorie students.
Indeed, the triumph of their efforts is plain to see in last year’s NAPLAN data, which showed nearly half of the school’s Aboriginal students achieved results in the top two NAPLAN bands and in spelling. They also demonstrated increases in levels of positive endorsement for their schooling.
And to cap it all off, the school has worked collaboratively with local Elders to bring the Wamba Wamba Nation language into its curriculum, integrating Indigenous culture and knowledge into all facets of schooling, including a Koorie Homework Plan, and even an app, which is being developed to support the initiative.
Students from Swan Hill Primary School sitting together. Image: Swan Hill Primary.
Chaffey Secondary College | Embedding Culture in Everyday Life
Chaffey College in Mildura is well known for its enduring commitment to embedding respect for Aboriginal culture in its day-to-day functions.
With more than 25 per cent of its student cohort identifying as Aboriginal, the college has worked to establish firm links with its wider Koorie community, as a proven way to foster a network of expertise and opportunity for students.
In 2016, the school’s Koorie Education Team won Mildura’s esteemed NAIDOC Partnership Award, and in 2020 it’s a finalist in the Victorian Education Awards for its respectful and inclusive practices to improve Koorie student achievement.
In many respects, it’s all the little things at Chaffey SC that make a big impact – such as Acknowledgement of Country at every assembly, and even co-created artworks and uniform designs made with the input of local Elders.
Chaffey Secondary is one of only two sites across Victoria to trial the ‘Stars Foundation’ – an initiative working to provide a supportive framework for young Aboriginal women to improve their educational and health outcomes.
At Chaffey Secondary there has been a demonstrated increase in levels of student attendance, engagement, and achievement.
Two Chaffey College students learning together. Image: Chaffey College.
Morwell Park Primary | Strong Foundations with a Reformed Curriculum
Morwell Park Primary School has created a culture of inclusion, trust and respect with its Koorie community, establishing strong foundations for positive relationships with students and their families.
The school has a ‘can and should’ approach; encouraging its Koorie kids that they ‘can and should’ attain high levels of academic achievement. And they do.
At Morwell Park, data is used to pin-point the learning needs of all students, with parents and families also engaged to help develop students’ Individual Education Plans.
The school’s sustained focus on lifting academic achievement for all Koorie students with its ‘can and should’ approach has resulted in significant gains for Koorie attainment at the school, evidenced by NAPLAN data showing an increasing number of pupils achieving in the top two bands for reading and numeracy.
Significantly, the school has worked closely with its local Aboriginal Education Consultative Group, with a dedication to the Marrung Aboriginal Education Plan, reforming the school’s curriculum to ensure greater acknowledgement of Aboriginal people, history and events, fostering a whole-of-school understanding of Koorie perspectives and cultures.
Early years learning at Morwell Park Primary. Image: Morwell Park Primary.