Nicholas Rupolo, Narrandera Argus
Narrandera High School’s Aboriginal Learning Centre is at the heart of better than expected results in this year’s NAPLAN.
The number of Aboriginal students achieving results in the top two bands was more than triple than any previous year at Narrandera High School.
More than two thirds of year nine Aboriginal students exceeded expected growth in reading and numeracy compared to the New South Wales average.
Established in 2019, the Aboriginal Learning Centre is a classroom space designed to be calming and culturally sensitive, where students can access extra support. It has been credited as one of the best strategies in getting the best out of Indigenous students.
“We have lots of opportunities for our students to develop their own cultural awareness but share that with the school community,” said NHS Principal Marni Milne.
“We have new initiatives with the Aboriginal girls group, we started that this term where they explore culture through discovering language and arts and craft and more activities.
“There is more staff allocated to the centre plus a part-time teacher and a teachers aide.
“Literacy and numeracy coaching groups, (have) been key in terms of the increase in student results.”
The results from Narrandera High come as the NSW Government release findings from a report showing connection to culture, language and heritage was a key driver behind Aboriginal students’ successful HSC attainment.
“We are seeing that when Aboriginal students are supported to maintain a strong connection to culture during their schooling years, the more likely they are to complete Year 12,” Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said.
“Cultural recognition was identified as a unique driver behind students’ aspirations. Aboriginal students in Years 7 to 9 who ’feel good about their culture’ while at school were much more likely to aspire to complete their HSC.”
Further initiatives to integrate cultural teachings and practices at Narrandera High School have been held up by COVID-19 but Ms Milne is expecting to broaden the Aboriginal Learning Centre to include parents and families.
“We’ve had little opportunity to bring parents in to look at the centre, one of the things we’ve got planned for term one next year is to bring parents into the centre so we can broaden our focus for families as a contact point between them and the school,” Principal Milne said.
“That’s something we can’t do this term obviously but we are hoping that will change term one next year and that we can have community elders coming in. One of the best sources is to have connection to elders.”
This article appeared in the Narrandera Argus, 28 October 2021.