Students find their voice with Aboriginal language
Toormina High School has employed a fulltime teacher to expand its Aboriginal language program. The local Gumbaynggirr language has been taught to Year 7 students for the past two years and will be extended to Year 9 students in 2017.
Member for Coffs Harbour, Andrew Fraser, said the language program improved educational outcomes for its students and is building greater community engagement with the school.
“The school’s use of needs-based funding is helping to give Toormina students new ways to explore a language and gain a new sense of self-respect,” Mr Fraser said.
“Many of these students are from the Gumbaynggirr community and most did not speak their own cultural language. Through this newly forged connection to culture, it’s clear that student learning is improving and student’s self-esteem rises.”
The Gumbaynggirr language program is taught through one of five Aboriginal Language and Culture Nests that were established by the NSW Government’s Aboriginal initiative OCHRE to assist Aboriginal people and communities to reclaim, revitalise and maintain traditional languages.
Over the past two years:
- Aboriginal student attendance at Toormina has risen by 12 per cent;
- Enrolments have increased by 3 per cent as word has spread of the success of the program despite the fact that the school is in a demographic area with a declining school aged population; and
- At least 14 per cent more parents are attending the first "meet the teacher" night after the program was introduced.
Mr Fraser said Toormina High School’s approach had led to students taking an active lead in their community outside the school, creating a deeper sense of connection between the school and the community, again improving the educational outcomes for the students.
In 2015 and 2016, Toormina High School received $1,079,885 and $1,140,998 respectively in needs-based funding made possible by NSW being the first state to sign the Gonski agreement.
This year, the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government is investing a record $113 million in additional funding to support NSW public school students who need it most.