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Strong futures for Indigenous students

Strategy: Foster strong students, strong results and strong futures for Indigenous children, designed to close the gap in educational outcomes

Indigenous Education and Training Futures

The Indigenous Education and Training Futures Division provides a single point of accountability across the department for Indigenous engagement in education and training. During 2009-10, the division:

  • launched the Closing the Gap Education Strategy
  • continued to enhance the pre-Prep program across 35 Indigenous communities
  • continued to support students from identified communities and their families to assist in the transition to secondary schools in regional and metropolitan schools and remain until the end of Year 12
  • continued the pilot of Indigenous Education Support Structures to improve the attendance, achievement and school completion of Indigenous students, at a cost of $2.5 million
  • supported Indigenous young people and adults by provided targeted funding to TAFEs and RTOs to provide courses that lead to identified regional employment
  • supported the Cape York Aboriginal Australian Academy class, culture and club pilot program at the Aurukun and Coen campuses of Western Cape College, at a cost of up to $7.72 million over three years.

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Closing the Gap Education Strategy

The Closing the Gap Education Strategy is the overarching departmental strategy on Indigenous education in Queensland. The strategy's service lines are:

  • foundation learning with a focus on literacy and numeracy
  • health and physical activity as a precondition to learning
  • participation to employment
  • culture and enterprise.

The strategy has set three intermediary targets in order to meet the Council of Australian Government's (COAG) targets for closing the gap between outcomes for Indigenous and non-Indigenous students. These targets are:

  • halving the gap in Year 3 reading and numeracy by 2012
  • closing the gap in student attendance by 2013
  • closing the gap in Year 12 retention by 2013.

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Indigenous school attendance

In 2009, 46 110 Indigenous students were enrolled in Queensland schools full time, making up 6.4 per cent of Queensland's total full-time student population. Of the 39 357 Indigenous students enrolled in Queensland state schools:

  • 43.6 per cent were enrolled in metropolitan schools
  • 13.3 per cent were enrolled in provincial schools
  • 24.1 per cent were enrolled in rural schools
  • 19.0 per cent were enrolled in remote schools.

Queensland has 29.6 per cent of the full-time Indigenous students in Australia.

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Bound for Success

The Bound for Success education strategies introduced a comprehensive range of targeted strategies to improve standards of academic achievement for students in Far North Queensland.

The Torres Strait education strategy was released in December 2005. The Cape York education strategy was released in July 2006. Major initiatives under these strategies include:

  • enhancing pre-Prep for Indigenous children to better prepare them for school. Of the 35 pre-Prep communities, 29 are in Cape York and Torres Strait communities
  • implementing a range of initiatives to improve standards of academic achievement for students in both regions across Prep to Year 10 in all state schools, including:
    • implementation of new, consistent curriculum
    • culturally relevant, rigorous assessment tasks
    • district-wide moderation processes to improve comparability of teacher judgments
    • progress maps and an online tool to assist teachers to monitor student progress in literacy, numeracy and health awareness
    • professional development for teachers
    • providing transition support to Indigenous students who leave their home communities to complete their secondary schooling.

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Indigenous performance - literacy and numeracy

Throughout Australia, students who are Indigenous are overrepresented in the group of students who fail to reach national achievement standards in literacy and numeracy by the end of primary school.

For some Indigenous students, English is a second or even third language. Some students use English only at school, which makes the challenge of lifting literacy and numeracy outcomes for these students even more complex.

In the 2008 and 2009 NAPLAN results, Queensland Indigenous students ranked 5th on average in all jurisdictions across all result areas of literacy and numeracy.

In absolute terms, a higher proportion of Queensland Indigenous students achieved the NMS than Indigenous students nationally in 15 of the 20 test results in 2009, and 13 of the 20 test results in 2008.

In 2008, across the four year levels and all 20 result areas, 61.8 to 81.8 per cent of Indigenous students in Queensland achieved the NMS, compared with 59.5 to 80.2 per cent in 2009.

Comparing 2008 and 2009, Queensland Indigenous students scored higher in 10 test results. The largest gains for Indigenous students occurred in Year 3, with improvements in four out of the five domains. Of these, Year 3 reading is a statistically higher result.

For Queensland Indigenous state school students, there was an improvement between 2008 and 2009 in the percentage of students achieving NMS in 11 of the 20 tested result areas.

The gap between Queensland Indigenous state school students and all students in Queensland narrowed in 10 of the 20 tested result areas in the percentage of students achieving NMS. The strongest improvements for Queensland Indigenous state school students were in Year 3 and Year 5 reading, and Year 5 and Year 9 numeracy. Performance Indicator symbol

In absolute terms, Queensland Indigenous students have achieved the same or higher mean scale scores in 14 of the 20 test results in both 2008 and 2009 when compared with Indigenous students across the nation. In both years, Queensland Indigenous students achieved a statistically higher result in Year 7 spelling than Australian Indigenous students.

In 2009, across all year levels and result areas, Indigenous students in Queensland achieved mean scale scores ranging from 317.2 to 520.4, compared with 302.3 to 522.7 in 2008.

Comparing 2008 and 2009, the average scale score for Queensland Indigenous students was higher in 13 test results. Of these, two test results show statistically significant improvement (Year 3 reading and Year 3 grammar and punctuation). This represents fewer instances of improvement than were achieved by Australian Indigenous students, where there are 15 improved test results and four of these are statistically significantly improved.

Figures 18-20 show the percentage of Queensland Indigenous students in all schools compared with all Queensland students at or above the national minimum standard (NMS) in reading writing and numeracy.

Figure 18: NAPLAN 2008 & 2009 - Reading comparative data:Queensland students & Queensland Indigenous students

NAPLAN 2008 & 2009 - Reading comparative data:Queensland students & Queensland Indigenous students

Graph showing percentage of Queensland Indigenous students from all schools at or above national minimum standard compared with all Queensland students in reading, 2008-09

Source: Data is drawn from NAPLAN - National Assessment Program - Literacy and Numeracy Stage II Data

Figure 19: NAPLAN 2008 & 2009 - Writing comparative data: Queensland students & Queensland Indigenous students

NAPLAN 2008 & 2009 - Writing comparative data: Queensland students & Queensland Indigenous students

Graph showing percentage of Queensland Indigenous students from all schools at or above national minimum standard compared with all Queensland students in writing 2008-09

Source: Data is drawn from NAPLAN - National Assessment Program - Literacy and Numeracy Stage II Data

Figure 20: NAPLAN 2008 and 2009 - Numeracy comparative data: Queensland students & Queensland Indigenous students

NAPLAN 2008 and 2009 - Numeracy comparative data: Queensland students & Queensland Indigenous students

Graph showing percentage of Queensland Indigenous students from all schools at or above national minimum standard compared with all Queensland students in numeracy, 2008-09

Source: Data is drawn from NAPLAN - National Assessment Program - Literacy and Numeracy Stage II Data

Notes:

  1. NMS: National Minimum Standard
  2. 95 per cent confidence intervals are shown for the percentage of students at or above NMS
  3. Error bars depict errors within each year, thus comparisons across years should not be based on the confidence intervals shown

Figures 21-23 show the percentage of Queensland Indigenous students from state schools compared with all Queensland students at or above the national minimum standard (NMS) in reading writing and numeracy.

Figure 21: NAPLAN 2008 and 2009 - Reading comparative data: Queensland students & Queensland state school Indigenous students

NAPLAN 2008 and 2009 - Reading comparative data: Queensland students & Queensland state school Indigenous students

Graph showing percentage of Queensland Indigenous students from state schools at or above national minimum standard compared with all Queensland students in reading, 2008-09

Source: Data is drawn from NAPLAN - National Assessment Program - Literacy and Numeracy Stage II Data

Figure 22: NAPLAN 2008 & 2009 - Writing comparative data: Queensland students & Queensland state school Indigenous students

NAPLAN 2008 & 2009 - Writing comparative data: Queensland students & Queensland state school Indigenous students

Graph showing percentage of Queensland Indigenous students from state schools at or above national minimum standard compared with all Queensland students in writing, 2008-09

Source: Data is drawn from NAPLAN - National Assessment Program - Literacy and Numeracy Stage II Data

Figure 23: NAPLAN 2008 & 2009 - Numeracy comparative data: Queensland students & Queensland state school Indigenous students

NAPLAN 2008 & 2009 - Numeracy comparative data: Queensland students & Queensland state school Indigenous students

Graph showing percentage of Queensland Indigenous students from state schools at or above national minimum standard compared with all Queensland students in numeracy-2008-09

Source: Data is drawn from NAPLAN - National Assessment Program - Literacy and Numeracy Stage II Data

Notes:

  1. NMS: National Minimum Standard
  2. 95 per cent confidence intervals are shown for the percentage of students at or above NMS
  3. Error bars depict errors within each year thus comparisons across years should not be based on the confidence intervals shown

Figures 24-26 show the percentage of Queensland Indigenous students from all schools compared with all Australian students at or above the national minimum standard (NMS) in reading writing and numeracy.

Figure 24: NAPLAN 2008 & 2009 - Reading comparative data: Queensland Indigenous students & Australian Indigenous students

NAPLAN 2008 & 2009 - Reading comparative data: Queensland Indigenous students & Australian Indigenous students

Graph showing percentage of all Queensland Indigenous students compared with Australian Indigenous students, at or above the national minimum standard in reading, 2008-2009

Figure 25: NAPLAN 2008 & 2009 - Writing comparative data: Queensland Indigenous students & Australian Indigenous students

NAPLAN 2008 & 2009 - Writing comparative data: Queensland Indigenous students & Australian Indigenous students

Graph showing percentage of all Queensland Indigenous students compared with Australian Indigenous students, at or above the national minimum standard in writing, 2008-2009

Source: Data is drawn from NAPLAN - National Assessment Program - Literacy and Numeracy Stage II Data

Figure 26: NAPLAN 2008 & 2009 - Numeracy comparative data: Queensland Indigenous students & Australian Indigenous students

NAPLAN 2008 & 2009 - Numeracy comparative data: Queensland Indigenous students & Australian Indigenous students

Graph showing percentage of all Queensland Indigenous students compared with Australian Indigenous students, at or above the national minimum standard in numeracy, 2008-2009

Source: Data is drawn from NAPLAN - National Assessment Program - Literacy and Numeracy Stage II Data

Notes:

  1. NMS: National Minimum Standard
  2. 95 per cent confidence intervals are shown for the percentage of students at or above NMS
  3. Error bars depict errors within each year, thus comparisons across years should not be based on the confidence intervals shown

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Improving Indigenous literacy and numeracy performance

In Queensland, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students are over-represented among students who are under-achieving in literacy and numeracy. Multiple factors contribute to this situation, so responses are targeting many areas that impact on students' learning.

In Queensland, many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from remote, rural or urban areas have rich and complex language backgrounds, and so are often learners of English as a subsequent language/dialect (ESL/D). As learners of Standard Australian English (SAE), these students are in the process of acquiring the language of school instruction and performance. The degree of students' proficiency in SAE affects the accessibility of classroom learning, so it constitutes an operative variable in their achievement in literacy and numeracy. For this reason, the language learning needs of Indigenous ESL/D learners have been brought into focus.

Many initiatives focusing on Indigenous ESL/D students' acquisition of SAE have been implemented. Foundations for Success, the curriculum guidelines for pre-Prep in remote Indigenous communities, provide guidance to early childhood educators to encourage children's beginning SAE, while respecting their home languages. The federal government funded Understanding Children's Language Acquisition Project assisted with the research, development and training for the approach.

Indigenous ESL learners have been specifically targeted in the early years in Queensland's Closing the Gap Education Strategy highlighting the responsibility of all system levels to provide for their needs. Professional development for educators, ESL EsSentiaLs, has continued to be delivered throughout the state, to train teachers in how to provide language focused planning, teaching and assessment.

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Pre-Prep - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities

Information about the pre-Prep program is provided in Giving children a flying start.

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Embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Perspectives in Schools framework

To cater for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in Queensland schools, the school workforce must have appropriate cross-cultural skills, knowledge and understandings. Including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives in school practices gives all students a greater understanding of the histories, cultures, values, beliefs, languages, lifestyles and roles of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The Embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Perspectives in Schools (EATSIPS) framework offers educational administrators and teachers the strategies to embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives across all areas of school practice, giving all students access to a balanced educational curriculum.

During 2009-10, the department:

  • piloted the implementation of EATSIPS across the five regions. Around 42 schools were linked in the implementation process
  • employed eight principal project officers for the life of the project (until June 2012)
  • introduced the Professional Learning Community (PLC), a six-week online learning course.

The PLC course aims to provide online access to individuals, school communities and Indigenous community members that are unable to participate in face-to-face professional development. The open site will contain high-quality resources for example units of work that authentically embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives. Case studies of how schools and local communities successfully work together in the process of embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives, and an audit of current available resources, will be accessible across the state so that the most up-to-date information and contacts are available and transparent to all.

The implementation of EATSIPS in all state schools across Queensland by 2012 is a target under the Queensland Government Reconciliation Action Plan.

Video: Cherbourg State School, A Whole Village

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Duration: 1 minute 12 seconds
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Video transcript

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The Queensland University of Technology Showcase Award for Excellence in Leadership
Cherbourg State School, A Whole Village

Guided by the African proverb that 'it takes a whole village to educate a child', Cherbourg State School has formed rich community relationships within the last five years.

A 'whole village' approach has seen elders and other members of the community welcomed into the school to support the development and delivery of a broad range of tailored core and extra curricular activities.

Student pride and academic success is achieved through highly effective classroom teaching and regular participation by students in dance, music, art, filmmaking, digital media and outdoor education programs.

High expectation across the school and fostering pride in Aboriginal heritage has seen improved student performance and greater satisfaction with the school.

Cherbourg State School, strong students, strong results.

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Indigenous Education Support Structures pilot

In 2009-10, the department invested over $2.5 million in the third year of its $10 million Indigenous Education Support Structures (IESS) pilot program. This program gives Indigenous students direct literacy, numeracy and other learning support, and provides in-class professional development to help teachers more effectively engage with Indigenous learners.

The department rolled out the pilot to school cluster sites in Mount Isa, Cairns, Charleville-Cunnamulla, Rockhampton and Ipswich. As a key part of the pilot, 10 professional support teachers coached and mentored classroom teachers in the cluster schools to increase their capacity to meet the learning needs of Indigenous students, and five case managers and five learning support teachers worked directly with students and their families to support attendance and achievement.

The department also gave funding to the non-state school sector to support their participation in the initiative.

Feedback from school cluster sites indicates overall satisfaction with their progress to date, and that they are using key learnings to inform the way they support Indigenous students in their schools and classrooms. Classroom teachers who were involved in the pilot reported an increased awareness of curriculum and teaching practices that helped them respond to the needs of Indigenous students in their classes. Teachers indicated they now had a greater repertoire of teaching strategies to better respond to the individual learning styles of Indigenous students, and were more explicitly focusing on literacy and numeracy to improve outcomes for Indigenous students.

There is evidence that the support provided by the learning support teachers and the case managers in secondary schools is having a positive impact on attendance and achievement outcomes for individual Indigenous students. Emerging successes of the IESS pilot include an increased level of engagement of parents of Indigenous students and the Indigenous community.

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Transition Support Service

The Transition Support Service, now in its fourth year of operation, helps students make the transition from the primary phase of schooling in their home communities to secondary schooling in large metropolitan or urban areas.

In 2009-10, the department provided a further $1.6 million to support students from the Torres Strait, Cape York and Palm Island while they studied away from home at rural and urban secondary schools.

In 2009, over 300 students participated, with the majority arriving on time and remaining at school each term.

The Transition Support Service is highly valued by the students who are supported by the service and the staff in the secondary boarding schools that they attend.

Students appreciate the help with travel arrangements, liaising with their families and dealing with the complexities of living away from home. Staff in partnership schools indicate that the Transition Support Service is a unique service that works well and contributes to continuity of learning for the Indigenous students in their school.

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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Clinical Task Group

The department participated in a Queensland Health-led project to provide strategic advice and direction on the development of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clinical workforces. The department led work to increase aspirations to employment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through success models in education and training, support mechanisms and health education, and employment pathways frameworks.

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