Extra funding would mean extra literacy and numeracy programs at St Helena

Karen Terry

Karen Terry, Principal of St Helena Secondary College, would expand her school’s literacy and numeracy programs for years seven and eight students.

Karen Terry, Principal of St Helena Secondary College, would expand her school’s literacy and numeracy programs for years seven and eight students, as well as give her teachers more time to work together, with the extra public school funding promised by Labor if it wins power at the next federal election.

St Helena Secondary College, located in Melbourne’s north-east, stands to receive an additional $2 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 Terry said that she would use part of her school’s share of additional public school funding to expand her school’s existing specialist subject programs.

“We already have a year seven and eight literacy and numeracy program paid for from previous additional funding,” Ms Terry said. “We timetable three classes at a time and pay for a coach to come in and work with the teachers. We also have what we call a ‘response to intervention’ teacher who comes in and takes the bottom five or six kids who really can’t be catered for in the classroom for that skill level.”

Ms Terry said that these programs had already had a positive effect on student performance, with St Helena’s NAPLAN scores moving from ‘high-low’ growth to ‘high-high’ growth in the past two years. Ms Terry said she expected the extra public school funding made available by a Shorten Labor government would mean she could grow the program to help even more students.

“Programs like this are a struggle to keep going because it is a considerable investment in the resourcing of time,” Ms Terry said.  “Now we are seeing students going into year nine and we don’t have the funding to expand. But we would like to run the program for them, especially in the maths area.”

St Helena works to inspire each of its 1600 students to “dare to be excellent”. Ms Terry said that investing part of Labor’s promised extra public school funding into staff development would go a long way to boosting student development.

“I’d use funding to try to free up my teachers more so they have less face to face classroom time, so that they can get into each other’s classrooms,” Ms Terry said. “That way they can drill down into the data with the kids, they can spend time planning together and actually individualise the program. For me it would be about having more staff on board and targeting when they worked.”

Ms Terry said that her staff were “lining up” to do professional development, and that she would devote extra funding towards coaching her staff to work more collaboratively in the classroom. Ms Terry said that her school had shown that teachers working together achieved better results in the classroom as they have to plan and work together, and they have to use data more meaningfully

“It is a learning curve for teachers as well,” Ms Terry said. “We need to be doing more of what does work and less of what doesn’t work. What doesn’t work is teachers teaching in silos and continually reinventing the wheel. What does work is collaboration, embedding those high impact teaching strategies, the deeper questioning, in the classroom.”