Indigenous Education Strategy Newsletter - Issue 1

Friday 7 August 2015

Message from the CE

Last weekend I had the privilege of attending the Garma Festival. This event in remote Arnhem Land is a celebration of Indigenous culture and attracts around 2,000 people to discuss critical issues affecting Indigenous Australians and provides unique two-way learning opportunities.

The festival was opened by Mr Galarrwuy Yunupingu who spoke passionately about the need to improve educational outcomes for Indigenous children. This desire is absolutely shared by the Northern Territory Government and is why Government initiated the review of Indigenous Education in the Northern Territory in 2013.  In response to the review, the Government accepted all recommendations and developed a ten year strategy impacting on children from birth until they complete formal schooling.
A Share in the Future Indigenous Education Strategy 2015-2024 not only creates a 10 year plan to improve education outcomes for Indigenous students, but also aligns Territory and Australian Government funds to ensure the strategy is fully funded and focussed.

The department was well represented at the Garma Festival. Tony Considine and his team provided information on all aspects of the strategy, with a particular focus on the work of the newly created Transition Support Unit and the design of the new residential facility due to open in Nhulunbuy in January 2017.

The successful implementation of the strategy will rely on all of our business units driving the projects they are responsible for and collaborating to ensure we turn around poor outcomes and establish a trajectory that closes the educational gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students in the Territory.

Ken Davies
Chief Executive
Department of Education

Secondary pathways to the future

The review made it very clear that students cannot access a full secondary education in very remote schools. This has resulted in unacceptably low NTCET completions, limiting future pathways for our Indigenous students in remote schools.

We are committed to working with Indigenous students and their families to support them to make the best choices to maximise their opportunities in the secondary years. 
Students and families have a choice to:

  • stay in their community and continue their schooling
  • attend a regional high school with access to regional residential facilities
  • attend a boarding facility in Darwin or Alice Springs
  • attend interstate boarding schools, and access scholarship opportunities and other financial and support assistance.

Where the student numbers are not sufficient to deliver a full secondary education curriculum, the remote employment pathways delivery model may be considered. This model will provide clear vocational pathways to local employment and will be delivered at the school. 

Employment pathways will be introduced in a staged and sensible manner.  Trial aspects of this program have commenced in 2015 and work will continue during 2016 to develop the larger scale implementation in 2017.

In 2016 very remote schools will continue to provide services where parents and students choose not to transition to a regional high school or boarding school.

The NTOEC will provide a full range of courses to regional high schools so that students transitioning to these schools have the widest possible choice. Any student who is accessing the NTOEC independently in remote areas will continue to do so.

In 2016, the following larger communities; Maningrida, Gunbalunya, Galiwinku, Alyangula, and Jabiru with existing secondary education programs targeting NTCETs will continue to offer these programs  and will continue to access the curriculum provision available through NTOEC.

During 2015 & 2016 principals in very remote schools will have the opportunity to work with their Regional Director and the teams within the Indigenous Education Strategy and School Support Services to determine the most appropriate model of delivery based on their student cohort, their context and the available resources.

Supporting students in their secondary choices

Mr Robert Picton has been appointed as the Director of the recently created Transition Support Unit. This unit provides a comprehensive transition to secondary school service for students and their families. Officers from the team will work with parents and students in their later years of primary school to support parents in the choices they will make to ensure their children have access to the best secondary school options.

By the end of September 2015, transition teams will be operating in Alice Springs, Katherine, Nhulunbuy and Darwin.  A team of Student and Family Support Officers will engage with all remote Indigenous students who are enrolled or enrolling in regional high schools and boarding schools by connecting those schools, families and students. There will be a rapid response service for students identified as being at risk, to ensure a coordinated approach in providing the relevant support.

For high achieving students, an excellence scholarship process will be established to assist them in moving to Australia's leading boarding schools.

Principals will be contacted shortly as the Transition Support Unit commences work to arrange visits to communities to initiate contact with families and students.

Mandated literacy and numeracy programs

Fifteen remote and very remote government schools have been implementing the Direct Instruction program under the Australian Government’s remote flexible literacy program with early signs of positive results.  It is planned to extend this to include Direct Instruction in numeracy.

The project commenced in January 2015 with the support from Good to Great Schools Australia and is running in Nganambala, Angurugu, Ntaria, Alekarenge, Pularumpi, Umbakumba, Borroloola, Milikapiti, Milyakburra, Peppimenarti, Numbulwar, Nganmarriyanga, Gapuwiyak, Mamaruni and Warruwi.

The program is being monitored and reviewed and the results will inform how it can be scaled up in 2016 to meet the needs of other remote Indigenous students across the Northern Territory.

Nhulunbuy boarding facility milestone reached

Design work is well advanced and has reached the 60% threshold on the new $20 million residential facility in Nhulunbuy for secondary students from remote communities across the region.

This is a key part of the strategy to ensure secondary students in Arnhem Land have the choice to access a high quality secondary education at Nhulunbuy High School and still remain close to home.

We have worked in partnership with the Yothu Yindi Foundation, who are leading a steering group which includes principals and members of the clan groups and community to oversee this initiative. A model of the new residential facility was showcased at the Garma festival at the Department of Education stall.

Girls’ engagement program extended

Seven Territory high schools will benefit from a brand new girls’ engagement program.

Similar to the Clontarf program for Indigenous boys, the new girl’s engagement program is tailored to reinforce engagement and attendance with a focus on educational outcomes, health and wellbeing amongst Indigenous female students.

The program will assist students to obtain a Northern Territory Certificate of Education and Training and support their employment options beyond school.

The new girls’ program will be located at Katherine High School, Dripstone Middle School, Sanderson Middle School, Nhulunbuy High School, Yirrkala School, Casuarina Senior College and Tennant Creek High School.

Stars Foundation Limited has been selected as the provider of the new Indigenous girls’ engagement program.

The programs will be operational either in full or in part by the end of Term 3, 2015 with two commencing in Term 4.

This builds on the six existing girls’ engagement programs at Palmerston Senior College, Rosebery Middle School, Centralian Senior College, Centralian Middle School, Jabiru and Gunbalunya Schools.

Housing upgrades

Attracting and retaining highly skilled and motivated principals and teaching staff is vitally important in our remote and very remote schools.  To assist this, a program of housing refurbishment is being undertaken to provide quality homes for staff working in these remote locations.

Current teacher housing construction projects underway include Kalkarindji and Ali Curung.

Teacher Housing upgrades have been completed in Ngukurr, Mbungara, Woolianna, Milingimbi and Maningrida. A tender process is underway for further upgrades to teacher housing in Ali Curung.

Message from Tony Considine

The Indigenous Education Strategy, A Share in the Future 2015-2024 was officially launched in May 2015.  Prior to the launch, consultation and planning was undertaken with schools and business units to develop the initiatives to be undertaken in the first three years.

The Indigenous Education Review Implementation team continues to work closely with all business units to drive the delivery of the key projects to be implemented during 2015-2017, including:

  • the expansion of the Families as First Teachers program
  • the introduction of a mandated literacy and numeracy in remote schools program
  • the introduction of the system wide PATM and PATR Literacy and Numeracy benchmark testing across years 1 to 10;
  • transitioning students to new secondary pathways, including attending secondary schooling in regional and urban secondary schools;
  • developing the employment pathways curriculum;
  • engaging Indigenous communities, families and students through all stages of learning to improve outcomes in student attendance, wellbeing and achievement;
  • providing a career development pathway for our 320 Indigenous Assistant Teachers in remote schools in partnership with Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Education; and
  • undertaking a remote teacher housing refurbishment program in addition to new housing construction in very remote centres.

Over the coming months we will keep you regularly updated on the progress of these initiatives through this newsletter.  

My team and I look forward to working with you and learning from the insights schools and regions provide to improve education outcomes for Indigenous students.

Tony Considine
General Manager, Indigenous Education Review Implementation
Department of Education

Last updated: 22 January 2016

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