We have got confident, creative and capable learners

This is a second edited excerpt from the AEU report, Getting Results: Gonski Funding in Australian Schools. In our previous issue. Barrack Heights Public School and Merrylands High were profiled. The full report is on Federation’s website

Casino PS is proudly reporting increased progress

Casino Public School
The school has enrolment of 700 students from diverse backgrounds, with two-thirds of students from the lowest SES quartile.

Aboriginal students make up 22 per cent of the school’s total enrolment, with a very small cohort of students from language backgrounds other than English.

Casino Public has a Support Unit made up of an IM class (students with mild intellectual disability) and three support classes.

Principal Garry Carter says, “Gonski funding has given us the flexibility and resources to challenge our students and get them to succeed beyond previous expectations.”

The new literacy and numeracy programs and resources have resulted in an increased rate of progress for students, with a higher proportion of students reaching expected or higher levels in literacy and numeracy.

In the kindergarten class every student is now meeting expectations for reading and comprehension in 2015.

  • In the K-2 classes, where the investment has been highest, students are routinely making 18 months of progress in a year in literacy.
  • A high percentage of students are now achieving at or above NSW statewide targets for literacy and numeracy.

The focus on staff development and additional individual support for students has enabled the school to move to more collaborative teaching, with greater emphasis on staff working together to improve the quality of their teaching.

Additional support staff in each classroom, which includes an occupational therapist for two days each week to provide in-class assistance for students with specific learning needs, has resulted in students becoming more engaged in their learning, with noticeable improvements in their class work and achievements.

Mr Carter states that “the full six years of Gonski funding are essential to provide continuity of funding and the resources necessary for students to make the most of their ability.”

Rooty Hill High School

More than 50 per cent of the students enrolled for 2016-17 are from culturally and linguistic diverse non-English-speaking backgrounds, including a large number of families from Asia and the Pacific. There is a significant enrolment of Aboriginal students (over 5 per cent).

The school FOEI (Family Occupation and Education Index) for 2016 is 122, with 70 per cent of students coming from families in the bottom two quartiles. This places the school one standard deviation below the government school average, which means that students enter high school with more challenges than students from more advantaged backgrounds.

Notwithstanding up to 80 per cent of students in any year 7 group being up to three years below grade average on enrolment, the school’s growth data is now above state average.

Principal Christine Cawsey AM says, “As a school, we have been able to use the Gonski funding to embed deep professional learning for our teachers and create a culture where it is everybody’s business to improve the 21st century capabilities of our students so that, when they leave school they are confident, creative and capable learners.”

Over the last three years in external measures of student performance in years 9 and 10, students have improved from a school average of 1.5 to 2.0 standard deviations below the mean to an average of 0.5 below state average. Growth rates in NAPLAN writing at year 9 were above state average in 2015.

Ms Cawsey says, “We have come to expect average growth rates of two to three years for the majority of students in any 12-month period and we can sustain that using some of the creative strategies the school has put in place in recent years.”

Ms Cawsey explains that full Gonski funding would have a greater impact in a school like Rooty Hill High School than in some other schools because, as shown by data from by the NSW Department of Education, the school is already identified as a high equity school. In other words, students from all backgrounds, including Rooty Hill’s poorest students, have the same opportunities as everyone else in the school. “With the Gonski funding, our teachers have found really creative solutions; with the full Gonski we believe we can break the cycle of poverty for our poorest students and ensure all our students have the potential to succeed beyond school.”

Read the full Getting Results report