Words by Dani Coombes
Schools In NSW are increasing efforts to guarantee Indigenous children receive the best start in life by providing them with an inclusive, engaging and empowering education that sets them on a path to success.
In an effort to promote cultural awareness and enhance Indigenous education, more than 2,200 schools across the state of NSW have implemented various initiatives. These include cultural awareness training for staff, with some opting to hold the training sessions on Indigenous land alongside Elders. The aim is to foster a deeper understanding of Aboriginal experiences and histories while emphasising the importance of incorporating Indigenous perspectives in educational planning.
Bidwill Public School is a testament to this commitment, embedding On Country learning into its curriculum to enrich the educational experience for both students and staff. The engagement with local communities has profoundly influenced the school's approach to Indigenous education, garnering positive feedback from the community. By involving families and keeping them informed about Aboriginal education programs, the school ensures a sense of value and connectedness. Additionally, Indigenous parents have expressed a desire to learn more about the local Darug people to deepen their understanding of the land they inhabit.
Canley Vale Public School has made significant strides in improving Aboriginal education opportunities through ongoing professional learning for staff and personalised learning for students. The school's focus on developing genuine partnerships with students, families, and teachers has resulted in a deeper understanding of the students' needs and stronger educational outcomes. Ongoing professional learning will continue to support Aboriginal students' attendance, engagement, and learning, while also enhancing non-Aboriginal students' knowledge and understanding of Aboriginal histories and cultures
Bateau Public School, along with five other schools in the Tuggerah Lakes network, organised a staff development day focused on Aboriginal Education Policy and fostering open and constructive conversations. The event highlighted the importance of working with the community to meet cultural and academic needs. Through hub meetings and school visits, staff members engage in relevant content, continuously evaluate their practices, and seek ways to embed Aboriginal perspectives into every classroom. By taking small steps in daily practices, the school aims to create a significant impact for all students.
Temora High School students embarked on a sombre but powerful history lesson by visiting the 'Cootamundra Aboriginal Girls' Training Home,' where Aboriginal girls were removed from their families and trained as domestic servants. This eye-opening experience prompted staff members to reflect on the ongoing intergenerational trauma and resilience of First Nations people. The school subsequently committed to incorporating the lessons learned into their teaching and learning programs, holding a whole-school Sorry Day Assembly, and fostering strong ties with the Aboriginal Education Team and the local Aboriginal Education Consultative Group.
These initiatives exemplify the collective efforts of schools across New South Wales to strengthen Indigenous education, foster cultural awareness, and promote meaningful engagement with Aboriginal communities. By incorporating Indigenous perspectives, fostering genuine partnerships, and providing ongoing professional learning, schools are striving to create a more inclusive and culturally rich educational environment for all students.
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