Ag club helps moo-ve attendance

A city school’s agriculture program is boosting attendance and providing students with new skills. Sophie Lambert reports.

A young girl holding leading a cow. A young girl holding leading a cow.
Image: Student Shianne Willis with a prized Belted Galloway at the Bathurst Show.

Students from Chifley College Shalvey Campus – and their prize herd of award-winning cattle – are reaping the benefits of the school’s agriculture program.

The Agriculture Club provides unique learning opportunities for students while ensuring they maintain an 85 per cent level of school attendance.

To join the club – and other extracurricular activities – students are encouraged to attend all their classes as their membership is determined by their overall commitment to learning.

A number of students in the Agriculture Club have this year maintained a perfect 100 per cent attendance rate.

Attendance is also encouraged by other bespoke programs, along with the school’s popular attendance rewards program.

Shalvey Campus principal Jenny Linklater said she wanted students to “love attending school” to take part in the extracurricular activities on offer.

“These programs encourage kids to want to come to school while offering hands-on learning experiences and opportunities to showcase their talents, build self-esteem and establish meaningful relationships,” she said.

“We encourage our students to love coming to school in so many ways.

“Students in the agricultural program, for instance, learn the value of teamwork as they work to groom, feed, and parade the animals.”

Shalvey Campus has a whole school attendance rewards program and also celebrates high levels of student attendance with the “Good Bunch Lunch” (Clontarf Academy weekly attendance reward) and the “Aboriginal Girls Lunch” (fortnightly attendance reward).

The agriculture program has a ripple effect in the wider school community.

“Our parents are really supportive,” Ms Linklater said. “One parent even camped out at the showground with staff and students to ensure they could assist at dawn in below-zero temperatures to get the cattle ready for judging at the Bathurst Show earlier this month.

“These students and their families are a credit to Chifley College Shalvey Campus and to all NSW public schools.”

After exhibiting at the Royal Easter Show, the school also attended the Bathurst Show and won highly contested awards for their Jandrew Stud Belted Galloways and Miniature Belted Galloways.

Five students paraded cattle, with Shianne Willis winning fourth place in the Under 13 Paraders.

“A dedicated team of students gave up their Monday and Wednesday afternoons to prepare these animals for the show,” Ms Linklater said.

“Their ongoing tenacity, dedication and effort has paid off, which is so satisfying to see as an educator.”

Chifley College Shalvey Campus parent, Robyne Willis, said her daughter, Shianne, and her peers were enthusiastic to attend school to care for their show cows.

“As the parent who camped out with the kids, getting them up in the morning at the show was a bit of a challenge even though they were super keen,” Mrs Willis said.

“The agriculture program provides them with so much learning outside the classroom and takes them out of their comfort zones as many of them have never been around farm animals before. They love it.”

Agriculture teacher Alison Mathieu oversees the agriculture program and said it encourages students to maintain their attendance in all classes throughout the day.

“There is such a high level of dedication and commitment from students, and they often arrive at school well before the official start of the school day to work with the animals,” she said.

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