Building a Learning Community: improving Indigenous student outcomes at Manunda Terrace Primary School, Northern Territory
Manunda Terrace Primary School is an urban school of 310 students (T-7), approximately one third of whom are Indigenous children. The school also provides for 110 itinerant Indigenous children who come in from rural communities to live for various periods of time.
In 2003 Manunda Terrace Primary School set itself the goal of improving its results for the Multilevel Assessment Program (MAP), a system-wide assessment of all Year 3, 5 and 7 students in numeracy and literacy. To achieve this goal, the school adopted a holistic approach that encompassed three key strategies: the Strong Men Strong Model program, the Early Childhood Assessment and Monitoring program, and the Modified Manunda Literacy Program.
This approach required a great deal of energy and commitment by all staff, and, in particular, a commitment by classroom teachers to building connections between people - to becoming a learning community. The approach recognises that it is the energy and focus of the classroom teachers, Inclusion Support Assistants and tutors that ultimately lead to improved student outcomes and enhanced literacy and numeracy.
What we did
After a series of meetings, our elected Learning Leadership Team, with the agreement of the whole staff, decided on three parallel strategies for improving MAP results.
What we have achieved
We have achieved significant increases in student enrolments and retention rates, and we have noticeably improved behaviour and school culture. Most importantly, we have achieved our main goal, which was to attain significant improvement in the MAP results from 2002 to 2003.
System Wide Assessment Results
As is evident from the comparison of 2002 and 2003 MAP results data above, our approach to improving literacy and numeracy results has been highly successful. There have been outstanding improvements in percentages of students achieving benchmarks in all cohorts (Year 3 and Year 5) in reading and numeracy. Most importantly, 100% of Indigenous students achieved benchmark in Year 3 numeracy, and there was an increased achievement from 55% to 91% in reading. Given that approximately a third of our school population are Indigenous, and that many have come from non-urban backgrounds, this is a result of which we are very proud.
Keene, A. (2000) Complexity Theory: the changing role of leadership Industrial and Commercial Training Vol 32, No 1, pp 15-18.
Prawat, R.S., 1993, The role of the principal in the development of learning communities, Wingspan, Vol 9, No 3, pp 7-9.
Egan, T. (2004) Letter to Principal re visit to school, 16 April 2004
Devlin, B. (2004) Evaluation of the Modified Manunda Literacy Program Charles Darwin University, March
Subject HeadingsAboriginal students