How Gonski funding is making a difference to Rocky students
WITHOUT Gonski funding, Berserker Street State School principal Rebecca Hack fears her students will fall through the cracks.
While it is often hard to visualise how the figures cited for schools funding make a difference, the Rockhampton school has the results to prove money makes a difference when it comes to education as one of a handful of schools nation-wide whose progress under Gonski is being reported in detail.
As the expiration date on current funding arrangements (June 30) draws nearer, the Queensland Teachers' Union has started touring the state in the 'Gonski bus', leading up to marches and lobbying in Canberra on March 21.
The bus stopped by Berserker Street yesterday, a school which was listed in the lowest 5% of Australia schools according to the Index of Community Socio-Educational Advantage according to a report compiled in late 2016.
That index is based on remoteness, the area's socio-economic characteristics, number of Aboriginal students, students speaking English as a second language and students with special needs.
According to the report, the additional $600,000 for Berserker Street has gone towards helping students overcome multiple educational disadvantages.
Almost 100 students at the school have identified disabilities, with a special education program across six separate classrooms supported by 17 full-time and part-time staff working with special needs children in classrooms and small groups.
About 60 students are from non-English backgrounds, including refugees with no formal education who require intensive support.
Gonski funding has allowed the school to implement a six-month training program for new teachers, employ specialist literacy/numeracy teachers and teacher aids, employ a speech pathologist to work with non-verbal students, employ a full-time guidance officer for families and provide one basic uniform to any child in need.
Ms Hack said the changes wouldn't have been possible without Gonski.
"The problem is that so much of what we do is dependant on funding and, if our kids don't get that support here, they won't get it anywhere else,” she said.
Ms Hack said it was vital to engage students at risk of entering the justice system through juvenile detention or as young adults.
She said engaging these students had the potential to save more than the costs of Gonski funding in the long term.
"Disadvantage isn't spread evenly across our society or our school system, and schools like ours have had to become experts at dealing with clusters of extreme disadvantage,” Ms Hack said.
"We need to do things differently, and with the help of extra resources through Gonski funding we have created a program that is letting kids thrive.”
Dan Coxen, from the QTU, said the success of Gonski in Queensland through autonomy of schools in allowing them to fund areas of need was something the other states should follow.