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Nick, head teacher, Mathematics, Coonabarabran

A major focus of the overall project was to engage schools and communities in analysing the issues surrounding numeracy learning for Aboriginal students as they made the transition from primary to secondary school. The project required the primary and high school teachers to work together with their community in the development of teaching plans and materials. Schools were invited to nominate Years 7 and 8 teachers to participate. The school-based team established itself quickly where teachers had been consulted about the project and were able to see how it might support current plans for the school. On the other hand, resistance was encountered where there had been no consultation with the teachers about their involvement and/or where it appeared to have been directed by senior staff. The greater the resistance the longer it took for teachers to feel comfortable in their participation in the project. It was crucial that schools developed a sense of ownership of the project before it could move forward.

Previous positive collaborative projects between the primary school and high school in Gilgandra underpinned their projects. Here, the team members met regularly after school to plan and develop learning experiences. However, at Coonabarabran additional time was taken to address a range of issues and challenges that arose. Here, the team met when the mentors and the project manager visited to discuss activities and school/community issues. The most significant factors for a successful project were the support and encouragement provided by the school executive and the school taking ownership of the project outcomes.

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