The Rock and Water program has taught students when it’s time to stand firm and when it’s time to go with the flow

Dollars kick-start change

Kerri Carr

Significant reductions in suspensions and a 70 per cent drop in negative referrals around learning in the classroom are being attributed to Gonski-funded initiatives.

Chifley College (Shalvey campus) is offering the Rock and Water program to all students.

Principal Janet Harding said the program builds resilience in kids and prevents anti-social behaviour.

She said the rock reference is about knowing when to stand firm and the water reference is about knowing when it’s time to be fluid and go with the flow.

“It’s just unbelievable how much it changes the kids to deal with their trials and tribulations,” she said.

“If students are not socially developed, learning doesn’t happen very effectively. Shouting, disrupting, not doing work, not bringing their gear and arguments stop students from learning in the classroom.”

Ms Harding said Gonski funding has enabled the school to move from a welfare approach to a teaching and learning approach.

The impact of this change has been that the school no longer has a head teacher welfare, but instead a head teacher teaching and learning.

With further Gonski funding the school has created school to work groups for disengaged year 9 and 10 boys and girls.

Ms Harding said the boys’ group has learned teamwork and collaboration skills in order to develop a work plan so as to complete horticulture initiatives in the school, painting and refurbishment programs and street art projects. They’ve also learned interview and personal presentation skills, and barista skills. The girls’ group is running a smoothie business, learning business skills such as faxing, telephonist skills, filing and front desk communication skills.

“Getting work skills has made a huge difference to them,” Ms Harding.

“It’s given them a direction, they’re more engaged and have increased their attention span,” she said.

Gonski dollars have also been spent on more tutoring for Aboriginal kids. The result: greater improvements than other students.