Learning and Teaching
A strength of the Connected Communities Strategy is the clear focus on learning continuums. Early transition programs and personalised learning pathways are in place wherever possible for every Aboriginal student to support readiness for school and positive learning throughout the years of schooling, preparing them for post school work, training or study.
The Early Years
All Connected Communities primary and central schools have programs to increase kindergarten enrolments and to support young children to transition to school within a culturally inclusive learning framework, including the teaching of Aboriginal language and culture where possible.
The focus on early intervention and prevention means that all Connected Communities school have established partnerships with local services to increase access to students and the community. By linking with these services, schools are able to facilitate any necessary assessment on children participating in early years programs, so that parents and staff have the information and assistance they need to provide a supportive environment for children as they enter school.
An Early Years Transition Centre on the grounds of Bourke Public School provides a number of programs for early years students, including a language program. The program introduces children to the social and educational routines that will be expected when they start kindergarten. Some children have not attended preschool and are unfamiliar with school. Others have special learning or health needs that would take time to diagnose once school starts. The school partners with Bourke Community Preschool to provide a comprehensive Early Years program. The Transition Centre has a strong focus on early intervention, with vision and hearing checked and occupational therapy and speech pathology available.
The School Years
Personalised Learning Pathways have been developed, or are in development, for all students at Connected Communities schools, to help those students to plan and achieve their learning goals.
All Connected Communities schools implement strategies to improve student literacy and numeracy levels and to better engage students in learning. Schools have a strong focus on Aboriginal cultural learning and some are starting to develop culturally inclusive curriculum programs.
Transition Centres have been developed at Coonamble High and Taree High and a Learning Centre has been implemented at Boggabilla Central School. These centres target students who are chronic non-attenders and students transitioning back to school from Juvenile Justice.
Where there are challenges for students, schools work hard to address the problems in an innovative way.
Taree High School operates an Elder in Residence program to develop and co deliver Aboriginal perspectives in cultural programs in the school.
Taree High School created a Film Pond documentary on the Elder in Residence program entitled Stand Tall, Walk Softly and Look Them in the Eye.
Following extensive local consultation and a one year trial period, Moree East Public School adopted new operating hours from 8:30am and finishing at 1:45pm. The purpose was to capture peak learning times, increase student engagement, reduce suspensions and increase student access to medical, dental and other services.
The new school hours commenced from the beginning of Term 2, 2016, with local agencies assisting before and after school activities and services.
At Hillvue Public School in Tamworth the school created a breakfast club with the 'Eat Well 2 Learn Well' program, where it operates and provides breakfast for all students free of charge. 'Eat Well 2 Learn Well' is funded by the University of Newcastle and is supported each day by members of the local Anglican Church and Rotary Club.
Post School Learning and/or Employment
All Connected Communities Central and High Schools run programs to encourage further learning or pathways to employment programs.
Coonamble High School (CHS) works closely with the University of New England (UNE) in a number of areas:
- A group of UNE social work students work with middle years students to consider their goals, aspirations and career options, followed by the CHS students visiting the UNE campus.
- A UNE social work student does a work placement at Coonamble High each year.
- Coonamble High students are offered structured opportunities to spend time on campus at UNE as part of Residential ?Taster Days?, according to their interests and aspirations.
- The school participates with the University in the Sky Stories program, whereby astronomy is linked with Aboriginal culture and campus visits.
Taree High School has links with a number of Universities:
- Newcastle University and Charles Sturt University ? there are a number of programs whereby University staff and/or students workshop goal-setting with Taree High students and getting a ?taste? of University life, together with their parents and carers.
- Newcastle University Medical Science Annex ? students from Taree High meet with staff and students to hear about study and employment in Allied Health and Medical Science
- UNE and Melbourne University Indigenous Program ? staff visit the school to provide information about study options, scholarships, and opportunities for assisted accommodation for students if they choose further study.
- TAFE ? students are able to incorporate TAFE courses into their pattern of study in Stage 6 either through traditional course structure or as part of a school-based traineeship/apprenticeship.