Indigenous Education Strategy Newsletter - Issue 5

The last few weeks has seen good progress in key areas of the strategy implementation. 

The tender for the Nhulunbuy residential facility closes on the 25 November 2015. There has been considerable interest from construction companies in the project and it is anticipated that the tender will be awarded in early January 2016. Construction of the facility will take approximately 40 weeks which will see students welcomed to the new facility in October 2016.

We are continuing consultation around the strategy implementation. The Department of Education Chief Executive, Mr Ken Davies and I recently visited a number of homelands in the East Arnhem region. The visits were to engage local community members and to discuss implementation of projects in their schools. The trip included visits to Rorruwuy, Gangan, Branybrany and Dhalinybuy.

The Flexible Literacy for Remote Primary Schools program delivering Direct Instruction to students is currently being provided in 15 government schools across the Northern Territory and is receiving positive results.

The program has shown some excellent results and the Australian Government are planning to expand the program further in 2016.  Consultation is currently taking place with four schools in the Northern Territory which we hope to be able to announce shortly.

Finally, congratulations to the Maningrida Child and Family Centre for being selected as a finalist in the ‘Excellence in Partnering’ category for the Chief Ministers Awards for Excellence in the Public Sector. This is exactly what these centres aim to achieve; strong partnerships across a range of services.

Tony Considine
General Manager
Indigenous Education Review Implementation

Child and Family Centre – Integrated Services

Early years learning and development are absolutely critical to improving and maximising learning outcomes and families play a crucial role in supporting their child’s learning and wellbeing.

One of the key projects in the Foundations element of the Indigenous Education Strategy is the establishment of integrated early childhood services at the Child and Family Centre sites.

Under the National Partnership Agreement on Indigenous early childhood development, the Northern Territory Government constructed five child and family centres located at Gunbalanya, Maningrida, Ngukurr, Palmerston and Yuendumu.

Many hard to reach families have had limited access to a complete suite of child and family services. This integrated approach via the child and family centres is designed to improve their access to education, care, health and family support, and improve young childrens readiness and capacity to learn and succeed at school.

The integrated child and family centres provide support to local Indigenous children (birth to eight years) with complex support needs, and their families, providing a safe place to access learning and development services.

It also enables timely referral and access to health and wellbeing services.

Arrmunbu Child and Family Centre

The Arrmunbu Child and Family Centre (CFC) at Gunbalanya is one of the five centres operating across the Territory.

The Arrmunbu CFC offers a range of services to local community members including a long day care service, preschool service and a Families as First Teachers (FaFT) program.

There is a strong integrated cultural focus across all of the services and programs offered at the centre and ‘two way’ learning is applied to all situations where possible.

The FaFT program operating at the centre does regular bush trips to support families in developing healthy lifestyles through connection to culture and country. The CFC facilitates experiences for parents and children during the school culture week, which promotes and supports parent wellbeing and connection to culture.

One of the key focus areas of the centre is to develop consistent partnerships and regular co-service delivery with other health and wellbeing government and non-government organisations. The centre is working with the community to provide employment opportunities for Year 12 graduates and the Bininj educators, who are actively working towards certificate level qualifications or higher.

The CFC prides itself on strong community engagement, including co-facilitating the women’s groups which provides the opportunity for women in the community to discuss areas of concern. 

The CFC also works collaboratively with JobFind to involve fathers and other male family members, this has led to the redevelopment of the outdoor play area.

Yambirripa school council meeting

Whilst in Dhalinybuy, the Chief Executive and I attended the Yambirripa school council meeting.  The Council provides Governance across all Yirrkala Homeland Schools and Yirrkala School.

At the council meeting, Assistant Teachers from across homeland schools who are engaged in study towards their advanced diplomas presented their vision for learning in homeland schools. Council members and principals of Yirrkala Homeland School, Yirrkala School, Nhulunbuy Primary School and Nhulunbuy High School presented their model for yaka gana (working together) to provide a pathway for any students enrolled across the four schools, utilising the combined resources of the schools.

The Chief Executive spoke with the council members, the proposed master planning exercise to commence in early 2016 which will focus on enhancing the learning areas in the region.

The Chief Executive was invited to provide a response to the council on the above issues and actions arising out the visit to the Homeland Learning Centres.

Mr Barayuwa Munungurr, Chair of Laynhapuy Homelands Association commented "We have a Lipalipa(Canoe). There is enough room for all of us. (We need) to balance together in the rough seas....to get to the calm waters. There we will see the clearer skies and a brighter future; the future of our people. Let’s get in the Lipalipa and paddle together".

MacqLit program trialled in four remote schools

MacqLit is a new group reading program from MultiLit at Macquarie University. The Industry Engagement and Employment Pathways (IEEP) team have been investigating different programs for secondary students and chose to work with MultiLit, trialling the new program in four schools.

Specifically aimed at older students, MacqLit is a reading program using Direct Instruction methodology with small groups of older low progress readers.

It provides teachers with a comprehensive sequence of lessons that includes all the key components necessary for effective reading instruction: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension.

It can be contextualised for the language and types of texts that students will need for local employment opportunities.
It is ideal for students who fall in the bottom 25% of a standardised reading test or curriculum-based measure, and who have particular difficulties in the area of word recognition.

MacqLit is being trialled in four remote schools: Ntaria, Borroloola, Ngukurr and Maningrida. Schools have the flexibility to select different models of delivery.  A range of resources have been developed to support schools beginning the program.

Although it is early in the implementation, results to date are positive:

  • early data is showing student reading and decoding accelerated with consistent delivery, averaging several months’ improvement in reading age in less than one term;
  • students engage very positively and enjoy the program;
  • teachers have noticed that students have improved in confidence and willingness to try new things in all classes since beginning MacqLit; and
  • teachers have found the program it easy to use whilst still providing teaching flexibility.

Yothu Yindi Foundation North East Arnhem Land Education Community Stakeholder Engagement meeting

The final meeting for 2015 of the Yothu Yindi Foundation North East Arnhem Land Education Community stakeholders took place in Gukula, about 50km  outside of Nhulunbuy on 4 November.

The meeting brought together key stakeholders from across the region to discuss the implementation of the strategy and to provide an update on the progress of the Nhulunbuy Residential facility including design, the tender and construction. Information on the consultations across NEAL was also provided.

Denise Bowden, CEO Yothu Yindu Foundation said “It is important that we align all the things happening in the region and that we are prepared well in advance to ensure everybody knows what is happening and when”. Denise also reported that there had been “no negative feedback about the design of the residential facility.”

The Yothu Yindi Foundation will continue to work with the Department of Education across the East Arnhem region as a key link between community and government.

Last updated: 02 November 2017