The learning hub in Woy Woy.

Gonski funding delivers for at-risk students

Michelle Rosicky
Michael Marusic

New Gonski funding has given schools the opportunity to reflect on what is working in their schools and provide assistance to expand on their successes.

Sydney Distance Education High School is using this new funding to better support its students, including students at risk.

After examining student data, the school was able to identify that the Central Coast was an area of high need for their at-risk students, along with South Western Sydney. As part of a staged program, Sydney Distance Education High School has opened the first of its learning hubs in Woy Woy at the Peninsula Community Centre. The school is allocating $15,000 per year along with four teaching staff members to run this centre at least one day per week. This initiative will, in addition to supporting teaching and learning programs, seek to enhance the social aspect of what these students miss out when they don’t attend school by bringing them together as part of their local community.

Principal Mark Piddington said: “Gonski funding is really helping expand opportunities for students to connect with each other and their teachers. Our first learning hub helps build strong relationships in students’ own communities. This is where students can also make local connections to support them with their learning and the rest of their lives.”

Sydney Distance Education High School is located in Woolloomooloo, just behind the Domain and the Botanical Gardens. This school is a specialist education setting working with secondary students via distance education, be it online, over the phone, face to face or by post.

The students from this school come from a large drawing area (Wollongong to Newcastle and out to the Blue Mountains). Students include those with significant support needs, elite athletes and performers, students in juvenile justice centres and single course students. This complexity of drawing area and student profile is a common denominator in a distance education setting.

Distance education provision within the public education system is premised on the ideal of all children having the right to a quality education irrespective of their or their family’s circumstances, and ensuring that any educational disadvantage which may arise out of these circumstances is minimised or eradicated. Sydney Distance Education High School’s use of Gonski funding with the roll out of planned learning hubs will be working to minimise the risk to their students with significant support needs.

Michelle Rosicky is a City Organiser and Michael Marusic teaches at Sydney Distance Education High School.