This is an edited excerpt from the AEU publication Getting Results: Gonski Funding in Australian Schools
Barrack Heights PS
Barrack Heights Public has an enrolment of 250 students, most of them from low SES backgrounds: 70 per cent are in the lowest SES quartile, with 90 per cent of all students in the two lowest SES quartiles. A quarter of its students are Aboriginal and a fifth are from language backgrounds other than English.
The school has received approximately $200,000 in additional Gonski funding in 2014-2016.
Barrack Heights’ objectives for the use of its additional funding have focused on supporting a number of programs to improve learning, teaching and student engagement in the school. These include Aboriginal education, alternate learning for students with disabilities or behavioural and learning difficulties; adjusted learning; protective behaviours; self-esteem and wellbeing; literacy and numeracy; professional learning; mentoring and coaching; and community engagement.
Principal Sarah Rudling says Gonski funding is making a big difference to Barrack Heights Public School and other schools like it. It allows the flexibility to pay for additional professional support personnel including speech therapists, occupational therapists, mentors and specialist teachers; it provides the time for teachers to engage in high quality professional learning; it allows the school to provide assistance to families to ensure that all children have equal access to additional, out-of-school learning experiences that develop self-esteem, self-awareness and a broader view of the world in which they live, and it assists in creating a school environment that is modern and reflects the best practices from around the world.
As a result, Ms Rudling says: “Our attendance data has improved and equals state averages; our teachers are confident and passionate in their ability to meet the individual learning needs of every student in their class; our kids are engaged at school and often don’t want to go home on weekends; and our community is proud to share in our successes.
“At Barrack Heights Public School, the Gonski model of funding means happy kids, happy teachers and a happy community — it’s as simple as that!”
Ms Rudling says that the Gonski model of funding has allowed the school to begin to appreciate what Australian schools could and should look like – well-rounded, appropriately resourced, educationally engaged, community hubs.
“Money provides opportunities, and at Barrack Heights it provides the resources for our students to become active and informed citizens of the future,” she said.
“Schools like Barrack Heights across Australia need this funding to continue simply to equip Australia’s children with the knowledge, skills, understanding and passion to grow into the strong, confident citizens we need them to be.”
Education is not an expense: it is an investment in our future and the future citizens of our society. The Gonski model of funding takes political rhetoric and turns it into results-based reality.