School abuzz with exciting advances

Kerri Carr

Little Dolphins: huge success.

Wonderful advancements in teaching and learning have been made possible at Port Macquarie Public School this year due to low socio-economic status and Aboriginal loadings funded by the Gonski agreement.

Federation Representative Vince Maxwell said an early childhood teacher had been employed for four days per week to implement a pre-school to kindergarten transition program called Little Dolphins and work with early stage and stage 1 students on their literacy and numeracy skills.

“Little Dolphins is a huge success story,” he said.

The teacher works with two groups of 12 pre-school aged kids who have not attended pre-school and their parents, to upskill the children to kindergarten level. Each group attends one day per week.

“They’re taught basic numbers and sounds that kids who attend pre-school learn,” Mr Maxwell said.

“It also been really good to get the parents into the school,” he added.

In regards to the teacher’s work with early stage and stage 1 students on their literacy and numeracy skills he said: “Struggling kids definitely need the help so it’s great to have that in our school.”

Gonski funding has also enabled the school to employ an Aboriginal student learning support officer for five days per week to focus on Aboriginal students’ academic and social development and liaise with the students’ families.

Mr Maxwell said the teacher was doing a lot of intensive numeracy and literacy work with K-2 students in particular, resulting in improvements that would not have been achieved otherwise.

The school has also employed another teacher for two days a week to facilitate professional learning and to run an enrichment program to extend the school’s brighter students.

Due to Gonski funding, three times a term all teachers in the same teaching stage get a full day away from their class to plan lessons, evaluate lessons and use new technology in a collaborative environment.

Mr Maxwell said the professional learning opportunities had taught him many new ways to present information and teach kids.

He said the school was introducing the Focus on Reading program and unlike the introduction of other programs, Gonski money had afforded teachers the time to implement the program in a collaborative manner.

“We have been allocated time to collaboratively review and don’t feel overwhelmed,” he said.

His said his teaching had improved with the consequence that his students’ comprehension skills were improving at a faster rate than would otherwise be expected.

Mr Maxwell said the programs would not have been possible without the funding and he wonders how the school will maintain the programs beyond the four years that the Federal Government has promised to fund.