Indigenous Education Strategy Newsletter - Issue 9

  1. Message from Tony Considine
  2. Indigenous educator named NT Young Achiever of the Year
  3. Infrastructure updates for Homelands schools
  4. New Resources for Remote Teachers
  5. Students slide into great attendance at Lajamanu School
  6. Direct Instruction case study: Ntaria School

Message from Tony Considine

Over 170 representatives from across the Department of Education had the opportunity to hear about some of the Indigenous Education Strategy success stories at the 2016 Leaders Conference in early April.

I’d like to thank Cath Greene for sharing Ntaria Primary School’s experiences with Direct Instruction and Brenton Toy for his presentation on the work that the Transition Support Unit has been involved in.

The construction of the new residential facility in Nhulunbuy is running on schedule with completion scheduled in November of this year.

I’d like to congratulate a number of young Indigenous educators who have received recognition over the last month. Debbon Webb has been awarded the 2016 Group Training NT School-Based Trainee of the Year and Kate Axton, Anjelica Durrurrnga and Lisa Kunoth received commendations for their excellent work across the Indigenous Education Strategy at the NT Young Achiever of the Year Awards.

If you would like further information about anything contained in this week’s newsletter please contact at ierinews.doe@nt.gov.au.

Tony Considine
General Manager
Indigenous Education Review Implementation

Indigenous educator named NT Young Achiever of the Year

Centralian Middle School teacher Kate Axten has been named the NT Young Indigenous Educator and the Young Achiever of the Year at the 2016 NT Young Achiever Awards.

Kate is a committed young educator who first joined the Centralian Middle School as a graduate teacher in 2014. Kate has continued with the school and now specialises in English, Studies of Society and Environment and Pastoral Care.

Kate is a passionate sports player; having coached the local and school basketball teams, player and assistant coach of the Yirara girls’ soccer team and participated in the Classic Wallabies Indigenous Exchange tour in South Africa.

Kate used her win to promote the importance of Indigenous leadership in education, telling the NT News “we need more strong indigenous teachers out there for our kids and we need to have high expectations because they can achieve”.

As well as providing inspiration to others in her community, Kate plans on expanding on her skills as an educator by undertaking a Masters Degree in Education.

The Minister for Education Peter Chandler was delighted with the outcome of this year’s awards. “It is teachers like Kate Axten that highlight the high quality of our education system and who provide Territory students with the best start in life,” Mr Chandler said.

Infrastructure updates for Homelands schools

The Department of Education and the Department of Infrastructure are currently compiling a list of recommendations regarding infrastructure maintenance of the Yirrkala homelands as part of their master planning exercise.

To create the master plan, representatives from the departments visited seven of the Yirrkala homelands and their schools and took suggestions on how certain modifications will contribute to a better learning environment for the children.

The list of recommended infrastructure repairs and changes to school procedures and processes, and coordination of services will be discussed with representatives of the Yirrkala homelands prior to the completion of the final plan.

New Resources for Remote Teachers

A suite of online induction materials is currently being developed to prepare and support teachers looking to relocate to remote schools.

Due for release in early 2016, the resources are designed to provide teachers with information relevant to the NT education context like English as a second or additional language or dialect teaching and working with Indigenous assistant teachers.

When teachers arrive in the remote community, the resources will provide information on local induction processes and guidelines, as well as providing frameworks for principals and school leadership to use in supporting the new teacher.
 
Once the teacher is settled in to their new role, the resources provide guidance to teachers around professional learning and networking. This module will be complemented by formal mentoring that has a strong focus on continuous development.

Students slide into great attendance at Lajamanu School

Returning to school after the holidays just got a little bit more exciting for the students in the small town of Lajamanu.

After being acknowledged as the school with the greatest improvement in attendance in Australia in 2015, teachers and Remote School Attendance Strategy (RSAS) staff had the idea of incentivising good behaviour and attendance with an opportunity to spend their Friday lunchbreak playing on waterslides.

Students at Lajamanu are only allowed to play on the waterslides if they’ve attended school every day and don’t get sent to the Principal’s office for bad behaviour. “While we’ve only had the waterslides around for a few weeks, we’re already seeing improved attendance and more positive attitudes from the students”, Principal James Bryant said. “The kids look forward to their playtime on Friday afternoons and are making a concerted effort throughout the week to make sure they can participate”.

Direct Instruction case study: Ntaria School

Ntaria School adopted the Direct Instruction method nearly 18 months ago and the results seen by staff and the community in this short space of time are excellent. The hard work and dedication of the school’s teachers has resulted in their students making leaps and bounds towards their education, even leading the way at home and applying their learned skills to teach their families.

Principal of Ntaria School, Cath Greene, believes the students are motivated by success, and success is achieved daily in lessons. The students have adapted to a routine and know what to expect, and this helps them settle and learn. Cath recalls one student who was unable to read and was assessed as unlikely to ever learn to read. After applying the Direct Instruction method, he is now able to sit and read – a huge accomplishment for the teachers and the student.

The school strongly believes that behaviour management is tied into teacher accountability – something that is a strong focus of Direct Instruction. Teachers participate in professional development twice a week, holding peer conversations and undergoing observation in the classroom twice a day. Having another perspective helps teachers recognise when students are disengaging and require an alternative teaching style.
“Positive reinforcement and positive learning are absolute priority,” Cath believes. While Direct Instruction can be challenging to apply, the results speak for themselves. Teachers are allowed creative innovation within a rigid structure, and student outcomes are on the rise at schools like Ntaria.

For More Information

Email the Indigenous Education Review Implementation Team or phone 08 8944 9365.

Last updated: 09 May 2016