Development of a lifetime

Phil Cooke
Cessnock PS Fed Rep

Linda Burney MP with students Jayde Earl and Nat Lake

Gonski funding is the most important development in education in NSW shadow finance minister Clayton Barr’s lifetime, he said at a recent celebration of Aboriginal education and culture at Cessnock Public School.

Surrounded by outstanding artwork created by the school’s Aboriginal students, guests including NSW Opposition deputy leader and shadow minister for education and Aboriginal affairs Linda Burney were entertained with performances by students from Cessnock Public and Cessnock High schools.

The presentation also allowed parents and guests, including Maitland School Education Director Bryan Campbell, Cessnock Mayor Bob Pynsent and leaders of the local Aboriginal community to be informed of plans for Aboriginal education at Cessnock Public School for 2016, supported by Gonski funding.

  • Initiatives include: the introduction of a dedicated seat on the Student Representative Council for an Aboriginal student
  • the establishment of a junior Aboriginal Education Consultative Group
  • the creation of an Aboriginal education committee made up of teachers, parents and caregivers of Aboriginal students
  • the implementation of Mgoals, an online project that assists Aboriginal students to create and manage educational goals.

A wonderful morning of celebration was concluded with a lunch using traditional ingredients, attended by parents and guests.

The value of the Gonski funding model for Cessnock Public School was a message clearly articulated to and understood by the parent body, with the school’s P&C president subsequently posting on the school P&C’s Facebook site: “Such a great program and community interest is possible because of the Gonski funding.” Hear, hear.

Ms Burney said it was wonderful that Aboriginal students at Cessnock were able to embrace and be proud of their culture, with all students able to learn about Aboriginal culture.

Ms Burney explained that as a primary school student it was impossible for her to embrace her culture due to the values of the time and the way in which Aboriginal people were portrayed at school and in society.

She went on to captivate students with a Creation story about the Rainbow Serpent and Tiddalik the Frog and told students the most important thing they can do to succeed in life is to ‘stay at school’.

Phil Cooke is a member of Federation’s Executive.