Connected Communities Strategy
The Connected Communities Strategy is an approach that schools and communities can use to strengthen the educational outcomes for Aboriginal students and all students. It brings the community closer with the school, brings in Aboriginal culture, and allows the school to work with government and non-government groups to help support the education of the school’s students.
History of the Connected Communities Strategy
The Connected Communities Strategy began in 2013. It was created because it was clear that a new approach was needed to how we deliver education and training in our most vulnerable communities, and to how we link to other related services, such as health, welfare, early childhood education and care, and vocational education and training.
The Connected Communities Strategy was co-designed and co-constructed with the NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group (AECG) Inc.
How the strategy works
Just like the name – Connected Communities – it requires a school to build genuine partnerships with its community, and it highlights an Executive Principals expectation to work with their local communities in making changes to how education is delivered at the school, to suit their local needs.
It makes the school a ‘community hub’. This means it brings the community and school leadership together. Many of the current schools have made formal agreements with local agencies, to bring much-needed government and non-government services inside the school setting, to support students and families. These can include health providers, TAFE and Universities.
Cultural awareness training is mandatory for all staff, as is the teaching of Aboriginal languages and culture, and there is a focus on pathways and transitions in to and out of school.
The strategy has a flexible approach to service delivery at school. This means a school can use tailored strategies to re-connect students who are at risk, ensuring there is support for the student. These can include counsellor referrals, identification of a staff mentor, and links to community programs and staff.
- Aboriginal children are increasingly developmentally ready to benefit from schooling - in their physical health, social competence, emotional maturity, language and cognitive skills and communication.
- Aboriginal families and community members are actively engaged in the school.
- Attendance rates for Aboriginal students are equal to the state average.
- Aboriginal students are increasingly achieving at or above national minimum standards and overall levels of literacy and numeracy achievement are improving.
- Aboriginal students are staying at school until Year 12 (or equivalent training).
- Aboriginal students are transitioning from school into post-school options such as training and/or employment.
- Aboriginal parents and carers report that service delivery from the school site is flexible and responsive to their needs.
- Aboriginal students and communities report that the school values their identity, culture, goals and aspirations.
- Staff report that professional learning opportunities build their capacity to personalise their teaching to meet the learning needs of all students in their class.
- Staff report that professional learning opportunities build their understandings and connections with the community.
Connection to Government
The strategy is a big part of the government’s work. The NSW Premier has made it a priority for Aboriginal people to reach their learning potential.
The NSW Government, including all the departments, are working to increase the number of Aboriginal students attaining Year 12 by 50 per cent by 2023, while maintaining their cultural identity.
At the commonwealth level, the recently agreed Closing the Gap targets – including achieving full learning potential, making pathways for further education, and being engaged in employment or education – are affected by the strategy because the strategy’s aims include these things.