Lessons to learn from school figures

Jakeb Waddell and Synarah MurphyBroome Advertiser
Kate Burke, Nikki Sandilands and Shaun Joseph.
Camera IconKate Burke, Nikki Sandilands and Shaun Joseph. Credit: Daniel Wilkins

The shocking school attendance figures that triggered a massive State Government response to kids skipping classes in the North West have been released.

In a report presented in Parliament last month, the Public Accounts Committee found children in the Kimberley and Pilbara went to school less than students in any other parts of the State last year.

The statistics showed only 76.3 per cent of Kimberley children attended school in 2017, with the Pilbara recording 84.2 per cent attendance, compared to 92 per cent in Perth.

The Kimberley also had the fewest number of students with a 90 to 100 per cent attendance rate, with just 41.7 per cent falling into the category, as opposed to about 75 per cent in the metro area.

The alarming findings prompted the State Government to launch the Kimberley Schools Project at the beginning of the year, where four coaches visited 10 remote schools across the region and worked with communities to identify unique ways to increase attendance and engagement.

A similar $7 million education package was rolled out in the Pilbara, including the Partnerships for Student Success initiative, designed to tackle issues had an impact on learning in the area, including gaps in technology, hands-on learning and family support.

After its success in 2018, the project is set to expand to nine more schools by Term 1 next year, including three Broome primary schools.

Education Minister Sue Ellery said important steps had been taken to ensure children were turning up to school.

“The cause of student non-attendance at school is complex and to tackle this the State Government has implemented a range of strategies at a local level,” she said. “The programs we have introduced in the Kimberley and Pilbara are about school staff working with families to help overcome barriers to regular school attendance.”

Member for Kimberley Josie Farrer said more needed to be done in the unique region.

“Schools in the Kimberley need to be structured differently to accommodate the transient and cultural lifestyle of many,” she said. “The current curriculum lacks opportunities to learn indigenous history, culture and languages, inclusion of these for all students regardless of background could provide a greater understanding of the land we all live on and to bridge the gap.”

The schools involved in the program this year were Derby District High, Looma Remote Community, Wyndham District High, Bayulu Remote Community, Dawul Remote Community, Djugerari Remote Community, Kalumburu Remote Community, La Grange Remote Community, Nyikina Mangala Community and Wangkatjungka Remote Community schools.

Joining the program in 2019 will be Broome Primary, Broome North Primary, Roebuck Primary, Kununurra District High, Halls Creek District High, Muludja Remote Community, Ngalapita Remote Community, Wananami Remote Community and Warlawurru Catholic.

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