Lismore is go-go Gonski

Gonski funding has provided access to learning opportunities not usually available to country students

Lismore High Campus has received close to $1.4 million in Gonski funding to date and is showing exceptional improvement in every measurement.

To paint the picture, Lismore High Campus, part of The Rivers Secondary College (which formed in 2015 along with Richmond River and Kadina high campuses) has an enrolment of 365 students, 80 per cent of whom are from the lowest two SES quartiles (56 per cent from the lowest quartile). Aboriginal students make up a fifth of the student population and seven per cent of students are from a language background other than English.

The school has a more diverse student cohort than some other schools in the Lismore area due to a significant enrolment of foreign students whose parents are studying at Southern Cross University. The school has a support unit, with three classes and 30 students.

Lismore High’s principal, Nigel Brito, says Gonski funding has made a significant difference to the school. “The $1.4 million Gonski funding has been focussed on improving the quality of teaching and learning for all students and providing opportunities for students to access learning experiences not usually available to country students,” he says.

Specific objectives include improving access to technology for students, given that surveys in 2015 and 2016 showed 50 per cent of students do not have access to computers at home.

“It is difficult to successfully implement new STEM initiatives when the socio-economic circumstances of the community are such that 50 per cent of students do not have access to computers at home,” Mr Brito said.

Class misbehaviour is down

Because of the diverse nature of the school, student welfare remains a high priority but it sits within a comprehensive suite of measures designed to improve learning outcomes for all students and enhancing student wellbeing and engagement across the school, and improving outcomes for Aboriginal students.

Students, staff and parents are all positive about the achievements made possible by Gonski.

Student misbehaviour in class has decreased dramatically, school attendance rates are the highest in five years and enrolments, which had been decreasing, are on the rise.

Furthermore, NAPLAN results are the highest in seven years with growth levels at or above state level, and 2015 Higher School Certificate results are the most improved in 10 years, with data showing they exceed the improvement measure set by the school in its objectives.

For the first time, NAPLAN Year 9 results show students in two strands (reading and spelling and punctuation) are above the state average, and there has been a particularly significant improvement in the NAPLAN achievement of Aboriginal students.

In 2015, 37 out of 38 full-time students were awarded their HSC. “This success can be attributed to the effectiveness of the Gonski-funded Aspirations Program, and the positive impact it has made on Year 11 and 12 teaching and learning programs,” Mr Brito said. “Without Gonski, it will not be possible for us to improve curriculum differentiation for students by developing teachers' skills to cater for gifted and talented students.”

Edited from Gonski Getting Results 2: Gonski Funding in Australian Schools