Addressing disadvantage yields improved outcomes

Kerri Carr

Gonski money enabled Shakyla King and Amber Lamph to participate in the Deadly Cooking Program

Educational outcomes achieved through Gonski-funded programs will improve even further if the needs-based funding model is implemented as the originally designed six year program, says Cessnock Public School teacher and Federation Executive member Phil Cooke.

Two-thirds of the needs-based funding — worth $3.8 billion — was to be delivered to schools across Australia in the last two years (2018 and 2019), but the Abbott Government intends not to honour the fifth and sixth years of the National Education Reform Agreement. The public education community, including Federation, continues to campaign for the full-implementation of the agreement.

Mr Cooke has seen what addressing disadvantage with Gonski funds can do for students.

For two days per week Mr Cooke has been implementing Gonski-funded programs for the school’s stage 2 and 3 Aboriginal students, which focus on their particular needs, with the assistance of an Aboriginal teacher aide.

He has worked to enhance their literacy skills and their sense of Aboriginal identity: “I want them to know they have an important place in Australian society. A positive sense of identity allows kids a reason to be proud of who they are.

“Increased self-confidence leads to increased engagement in learning; improved engagement leads to improved educational outcomes,” he said.

“In my view there has been an enhanced sense of identity, and there’s been a lot of interest from the kids about Dreamtime stories, 1788 and its impacts, and the Deadly Cooking for Kids program,” he said.

“Based on the evidence so far, with the money we have now, further money will obviously only improve circumstances further.”

Gonski funding has enabled stage 3 Aboriginal girls to participate in the Sister Speak mentor program in terms 1 and 2 and a similar program for Aboriginal boys, BroSpeak, will be held in term 3.

Next term, a local Aboriginal artist will help deliver an art program to the students.

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