Student wellbeing to benefit from extra school funding at Redcliffe SHS
For Shona McKinlay, principal at Queensland’s Redcliffe State High School, any extra public school funding would make a huge difference to student wellbeing, as well as employing additional teacher’s aides and guidance officers.
Redcliffe State High School, in the Brisbane’s north, stands to receive an extra $1.5 million in funding as its share of Labor’s election commitment to invest an additional $3.3 billion into public schools in its first three years of government.
Ms McKinlay said that under the ‘Investing for Success’ program, the majority of Gonski funding that her school had previously received had been spent to great effect on employing literacy and numeracy coaches, as well as a Head of Department in charge of learning improvement. She said this meant her staff had additional time for identifying students who needed extra help.
“Our teachers are able to meet every Friday afternoon in a professional learning team,” Ms McKinlay said. “Those learning teams use data to identify students who go to AIR, or Academic Intervention and Response.”
“Those students who are identified to participate in a range of intervention programs for them on a Friday afternoon.”
“We’ve really focused on literacy and numeracy in both the junior and senior school,” Ms McKinlay said. “We are seeing improvement from A-E data across the board. We’ve definitely had improved NAPLAN outcomes for our students, and we have been able to put an intervention plan in place so that for students who don’t reach what we call ‘baseline’, we are actually able to have an intervention program for them, so that they have the opportunity to get more support to enable them to reach that benchmark.”
“Teachers love it. They would not give up their PLT time or AIR for anything. They absolutely love it,” Ms McKinlay said.
Redcliffe State High School’s vision statement reads ‘Soaring Above & Beyond Expectations at Redcliffe (SABER)’. Ms McKinlay said her school currently has about 1360 students.
Ms McKinlay said that any additional funding her school received as the result of Labor forming government would be used to expand its existing literacy and numeracy programs, as well as hiring more teacher aides and guidance officers.
“We will keep our focus on literacy and numeracy, absolutely, but another priority would be increase our current 1.6 Guidance Officers up to two full time Guidance Officers,” Ms McKinlay said. “They are just snowed under with student wellbeing needs and mental health issues. The other priority would be more teacher aides in classrooms supporting our junior students.”
Ms McKinlay said that Guidance Officers are an essential part of helping her students deal with issues experienced outside of school.
“Our student population has a high proportion of kids who are experiencing difficulties either with family issues or with mental health issues,” Ms McKinlay said. “Our guidance officers are absolutely run off their feet and so we just need more time for them to be able to put some proactive programs in place rather than the reactive, which is all we have time for at the moment.”
“I also would like more teacher aides in the classroom,” Ms McKinlay said. “We run reading programs here, and we really have to scrimp and save to try and find people who do those programs. If we had more teacher aides, we would be able to have kids getting some more individual attention and being able to improve their outcomes.”
Ms McKinlay said more teacher aides would also help take some of the classroom pressure from her full-time teachers.
“With teacher aides in the classroom, teachers have obviously got way more support than they have now,” Ms McKinlay said. “Teacher aides would be able to assist with students getting more of an individualised program to help them through.”
Looking ahead, Ms McKinlay said the focus of additional public school funding would be on student wellbeing.
“It’s that welfare issue, the wellbeing of students,” Ms McKinlay said. “If they are coming to school and they are not in the right headspace then they are not going to be able to learn.”
“Those proactive programs that support the kids are absolutely crucial,” Ms McKinlay said. “This year we have moved all of our support staff into one space so we actually have a student welfare centre now and that has helped. If we were able to have people dedicated to following up, monitoring, checking up on kids on a daily basis, that just gives the students that knowledge that someone cares about them.”