Strengthening ties with Aboriginal families and communities
Working together to foster an inclusive and supportive learning environment that empowers Aboriginal families and communities, strengthens cultural connection, and enhances student experience for all.
Briar Rd Public School
When it comes to parent and carer engagement, Briar Road Public School put Aboriginal culture at the centre of their approach.
Briar Road Public School is in Campbelltown. It has 247 students, of whom 18% are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, and 21% have a language background other than English.
Where engagement makes culture and inclusion a daily practice
Principal Tammy Anderson says, culture is not exclusive to Aboriginal communities, but a valued knowledge set for all children.
By working closely with Aboriginal families, celebrating and embedding Aboriginal culture became daily practice, including an integrated approach to designing and delivering cultural lessons.
The school connects with families through open communication, booklets and packs that support early learning concepts. It holds orientation sessions to build connections and form trusting relationships.
Staff engage with family members after school to reinforce the learning occurring in the classroom and support the work their children were doing at home.
With support from staff, students survey family members about their culture, personal and family histories along with working together on an Acknowledgement of Country for the school.
They also established a student buddy program, centred around Aboriginal students building their cultural identity and families understanding their role in supporting student learning.
Aboriginal Education lessons are taught in a dedicated Koori Room, which is also used as a community centre where Aboriginal members meet for cultural events and meetings.
Data shows Briar Road’s Aboriginal students strongly out-performing others in the state in reading for Years 3 and 5.
“Their sense of belonging is very strong, and that gives them a strong footing in the classroom,” said Ms Anderson.
Other results show that the school is achieving its key metrics of attendance, academic results and wellbeing.
While there has been an uplift in the past two years, the focus is now on sustaining that uplift.
And locally, Ms Anderson reports that the non-Aboriginal community love feeling they are part of Aboriginal education – showing that this cultural engagement is inclusive of the entire community.
“We’ve set a high bar for cultural inclusion, and it’s a standard the community wants,” she says.
For NAIDOC, the school hosts an annual awards dinner which brings the communities together and builds positive relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities.
Beyond student success, Briar Road Public School has been recognised with The Australian Education Award for Best Co-Curricular Program, being Aboriginal Education 2018, The Australian Education Union Arthur Hamilton Award 2018 and the Nanga Mai 2019.
Originally published: 26-Sep-2022