Batchelor Institute » Program Results in Record Attendance at Wadeye School
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Program Results in Record Attendance at Wadeye School

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RSAS team L-R back row; Marie Mullumbuk, Janie Murielle, Wendy Jabinee & Brigid Larri. L-R front row; Loretta Mills, Maree Parry, Paula Smiler & Christine Parmbuk.

 

Batchelor Institute’s Remote School Attendance Strategy (RSAS) team has assisted in achieving a record number of children attending school in Wadeye.

Following a 5-day Back to School Extravaganza, the local school reported that 671 children had been accounted for during this year’s census period – which is the highest number ever achieved in Wadeye.

The RSAS team worked together with the school to increase attendance during the census period, a critical time where the attendance rate is used to calculate the following year’s staff resources.  The school estimates that an additional 50 children were present on the first day of term, who had not been accounted for during the census period.

The Batchelor Institute team has worked closely with Tim Scott, Senior Project Officer, Children and Schooling Program from the Department of Prime Ministers and Cabinet (PM&C).

“Working on this project with the Batchelor Institute’s RSAS team has been very rewarding.  Typically the beginning of term three has had the worst school attendance for the year, with students slow to return to community after the long bush holidays,” said Scott.

The RSAS team was one of many service providers in Wadeye to join forces to deliver the AFL Extravaganza, an initiative aimed at attracting children back to school.

“This event clearly demonstrated how the Prime Minister & Cabinet and Batchelor Institute staff have the ability to drive collaboration with key stakeholders in Wadeye,” said Scott.

The event was designed in collaboration with Australian Football League Northern Territory (AFLNT), Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Thamarrurr Catholic School (OLSHTCS), Thathangathay Foundation, West Daly Regional Council, Palngun Wurnangat Aboriginal Corporation (PWAC), Stronger Communities for Children (SCfC) program, Batchelor Institute-RSAS team and PM&C staff.

The RSAS team and community members spoke about the importance of the school engaging with the community, as well as needing to give parents the opportunity to engage in a positive way with the school environment.

“Anecdotal evidence suggests that student demand for schooling in Wadeye and the perception of the value of education by parents are both low,” explained Scott.

“This event allowed community members to openly talk about the importance of school attendance with RSAS staff and to engage parents in conversations around sending their kids to school every day.  The key is to now turn the 60% attenders into 80% attenders, and the 80% attenders in 100% attenders.”

Batchelor Institute has been delivering training to Remote School Attendance officers for the past two years and was invited to manage the project in Wadeye in October 2015.  What was initially a 3-month opportunity to support the Wadeye community has become a 12 month contract with the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, with options for extension.

“The Australian Government’s key priority in Indigenous Affairs is getting kids to school.  The challenge for us is to work even closer with our RSAS ‘Yellow Shirt’ teams.  The Batchelor Institute’s RSAS team are doing excellent work that makes a positive difference,” added Scott.

The Remote School Attendance Strategy (RSAS) program is designed to lift school attendance levels in remote communities by developing capacity in parents, carers and interested community members to work with schools, families, and children to ensure they go to school every day, regularly and on time.

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ABC’s Territory Grandstand presenter Charlie King visits the RSAS ‘Yellow Shirt’ teams from Tiwi Islands and Wadeye at Batchelor Institute