A unique pilot project has shown significant success in lifting the literacy and numeracy outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students attending NSW independent schools.
The first of its kind for the NSW independent schools sector, AISNSW Pilot Project: Improving Outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Students aimed to address the critical disparities in the education outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students.
The Association of Independent Schools of NSW Chief Executive, Dr Geoff Newcombe AM, said the evaluation findings of the two-year pilot demonstrate successful results in increasing students’ academic and wellbeing outcomes as well as in students’ general happiness, sense of pride and belonging at school.
“The evaluation report presents important findings that can contribute to closing the gap in education inequity through evidence-based strategies that have been shown to enhance Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students’ academic results along with their broader life outcomes,” Dr Newcombe said.
“These positive outcomes are the result of schools developing authentic relationships with the students, their families and Community along with whole-school culturally responsive support lead by the principal.
“Broader outcomes for the students include increased engagement with learning, increased confidence in their learning capabilities, improved self-management such as independent goal setting and time management, and increased aspiration for school and future education success.”
Dr Newcombe said the pilot project involved four schools, each with significant numbers of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students. The project is underpinned by the priorities of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Strategy 2015.
The four schools in the pilot project are: Kempsey Adventist School, Pymble Ladies’ College, St Ignatius’ College Riverview and St Joseph’s College, Hunters Hill.
Sixteen recommendations from the evaluation report will be shared across all school sectors. Phase Two of the project will include additional networks of schools, including government schools, clustered around the initial four schools to draw on their experiences and learnings.
“AISNSW initiated the project because as a member organisation we support independent schools to provide a quality schooling experience for all of their students,” Dr Newcombe said.
“I am confident that this model of collaboration will inspire more schools in NSW and in other states to implement the strategies that have been shown to improve academic outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students,” he said.
“The aim of our schools, and of all schools, is to meet the needs of students to ensure that the individual student reaches his or her full potential.
“We’re talking about equity and teaching and learning. That has to be our focus.”