Working together to close the gap

A primary school in Airds is making great progress in lifting student outcomes while building community.

Image: On target: Students at Briar Road Public School work on a project together.

When Briar Road Public School, on Dharawal Country, marks Close the Gap Day today, it will need to look no further for celebration than the achievements of its own students.

Principal Tammy Anderson said with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students making up 45 per cent of the student population, the school played a key role in bringing the community together.

“As an Aboriginal principal I understand what an important role schools play in closing the gap,” Ms Anderson said.

“A school like ours, which is the hub of the community, has a big role outside of just educational outcomes … we have an important role in setting the narrative.”

Earlier this week, Ms Anderson had led professional learning around Aboriginal Voice, Treaty and Truth.

“It is important that we talk about the truth. Aboriginal people make up some alarming statistics … we need to find a way inside school to show we don’t have to sit in those deficits,” she said.

Ms Anderson said the school had strong partnerships with local Aboriginal community leaders and health and juvenile justice groups and worked together to support students.

“Close the Gap Day will be a celebration of what we’ve done together,” she said.

The school was currently exceeding its targets in all areas of performance, Ms Anderson said, with the school recording no suspensions yet this year and attendance rates increasing.

Recent NAPLAN results were the best in a decade with an increase over the past three years in moving Year 3 and Year 5 students into the top two bands in reading and numeracy from 9.29 per cent to 19.64 percent.

More than a third (36.4 per cent) of Aboriginal students in Year 3 performed in top 2 bands in reading which exceeded state and sssg by nearly 10 per cent.

As part of the day’s events the school will hold an Assembly to highlight the students’ successes and all students and staff will commit to closing the gap.

Year 5 and 6 Aboriginal students will work with an Aboriginal artist on creating banners and health organisations will also hold workshops with the students.

“We celebrate how far we have come, but we continue to educate all children on the importance of the continued work to close the gap,” Ms Anderson said.

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