Warren Central School in the Orana region of NSW is living this year’s NAIDOC theme through its focus on cultural identity to improve community wellbeing.
Principal Duncan Lovelock explained that the schools’ focus on wellbeing, explicit teaching, staff development and strong partnerships with families and the local Aboriginal community has all helped improve student wellbeing and academic results.
“We use the school as a wellbeing hub, working closely with families and intensive interagency support to meet the needs of not only the students but our families.”
“The students want to be here and the staff want to be here,” Mr Lovelock said.
One of the key initiatives of the school was the Our Place program, which encourages students to connect with the local Wayilwan culture and language and build a strong cultural identity through mentoring, song, dance and art.
The program is run by the school’s Aboriginal Learning and Engagement Coordinator (ALEC), Karlene Irving.
“Students’ development in self-efficacy, positive engagement with their school, social communication skills and leadership are significant indicators of success that we’ve seen with the program. Which, in turn, feed the community’s support for the successful delivery of ongoing initiatives under the Our Place framework,” Ms Irving said.
Warren Central School also runs the Yes Program with the local TAFE that looks at youth engagement strategies.
This is alongside the school’s partnership with the Royal Flying Doctor Service where students have an opportunity to cultivate fish, yabbies and vegetables from a shipping container.
Students in Year 2 can also take part in the Toast pilot program – an in-class breakfast club, where students receive toast each morning, helping to establish a structured morning routine.
Mr Lovelock said the programs and school’s focus on professional teacher development had contributed to improvements in student attendance.
“Because the community has seen the progression and improvement in Warren Central School, we have actually increased our enrolments in the past three years by approximately 40%,” he said.
“We’ve become a school of choice.”
The consistent Positive Behaviour for Learning practices and explicit teaching instruction has seen a reduction in suspension levels and improvement in student outcomes.
“We use data and professional teacher judgement in determining where our students are at and what we need to do to ensure that they are moving forward – that’s why we deliver great growth results,” Mr Lovelock said.
For the past seven years, the school has seen a 100 per cent employment rate for graduating students. All students have had successful pathways into work, TAFE or university.
“As a K-12 school, we know our students and their families really well and we are able to support them to be where they need to be, or at least support them on their way,” Mr Lovelock said.
Learn more about how the department supports student wellbeing.