Classroom teachers lead way in Gonski strategy

Michael de Wall
City Organiser

Participants at the Lindsay training event celebrate the end of a successful evening

A team of teachers from the Nepean and St Marys Mt Druitt Teachers Associations is leading the way in the national campaign to secure years 5 and 6 of the Gonski schools funding deal.

The two Associations formed an Association Organising Team as part of a national pilot project and recently co-hosted a workshop for Federation Workplace Committees in the Lindsay electorate. In the first session, participants considered the role of the Federation Workplace Committee in developing practical strategies for processing and acting upon everyday issues in their schools.

“We really wanted to do something that addressed the everyday concerns of our Workplace Committees while connecting those concerns to the big picture issue of schools funding,” said Paul Lang from Jamisontown Public School.

The second session focused on building the capacity of Federation Workplace Committees to campaign for the implementation of the full six-year Gonski deal. During this session the organising team trialled a strategy based on telling your Gonski story.

“We decided that the most powerful way to engage our communities was through stories of what has been achieved so far through additional needs based funding,” said May Ptolemy, a relieving assistant principal at Cambridge Gardens Public School and the Coordinator of the Lindsay electorate Association Organising Team.

Participants began working through the five simple steps to constructing their school’s Gonski story:

  • identifying new programs and/or positions aimed at improving student learning
  • listing the student learning objectives of the new programs and/or positions
  • recording the improvements in student learning that have been achieved so far
  • explaining the importance of years 5 and 6 of Gonski funding to existing and potential programs
  • thinking about ways to share their Gonski story, starting with colleagues and parents.

“After drafting my school’s Gonski story I felt a moment of clarity. I was confident to speak about Gonski. All I needed to do was to talk about my school,” May
said. The structured approach to telling a school’s Gonski story was well received by the 50 Federation Workplace Committee members from across the two Teachers Associations.

The Association Organising Team is now working on the next phase of the Lindsay electorate campaign which will involve sharing local Gonski stories with parents and the Federal Member for Lindsay, Fiona Scott.

“We want to thank Fiona Scott for the first four years of Gonski, and then we want to tell her our Gonski stories,” May said. “How could Fiona hear all of those stories and still say public schools in her electorate don’t need Gonski? I don’t think she can.”

The Association Organising Team includes Ruth Andrews (Dawson Public School), Kelly Campbell (Rooty Hill High School), Alice Dixon (Chifley College, Dunheved Campus), Rebecca Hodgson (Hebersham Public School), Paul Lang (Jamisontown Public School), May Ptolemy (Cambridge Gardens Public School), Rob Samuels (Blackwell Public School), Anne Sheen (Penrith Valley Learning Centre), Michelle Whiddon (Chifley College, Dunheved Campus) and Sarah Willett (Emu Plains Public School).

How can MPs possibly say no to funding Gonski?