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Nowra Public School

School context

Nowra is the major centre on the South Coast of NSW. The school was established in 1862 and currently about 600 students attend, of whom 17% are Aboriginal. The school has worked to drive a very strong Aboriginal Education focus through its management plan. The school has been involved in many innovative programs supporting teaching and learning, including a concurrent Australian Government Quality Teaching project that focused on building community links to students’ learning.

School learning team

The school learning team consisted of two teachers and an experienced teacher-trained Aboriginal Education Assistant with the support of a Board project officer who acted as a mentor for this project, and an attached school executive member. Each teacher had a small number of Aboriginal students in their classes. Through the in-class-tuition program, the school had been able to employ a number of Aboriginal parents or community members as tutors to support the school’s Aboriginal students in classrooms. This program did not operate in the project classes in 2006.

Working with the community

The school has a very strong connection with its community and many community members are on school committees. During 2006 the school was also involved in an Australian Government Quality Teaching Indigenous Program (AGQTIP) project which also had a strong focus on community participation in student learning.

Early in the project a number of parents participated in a discussion with the school learning team. They also talked about how they work with their own children to share their experiences of mathematics learning at school.

Language experiences of students

The teachers introduced word walls during the project. A range of different words used for each of the numeracy/mathematics concepts were added and discussed and the students referred to them when answering questions or discussing a problem.

Reflections on the project

‘Both Ruth (AEA) and I approached a few parents to become involved in the maths games in the classrooms. We were targeting Aboriginal students’ parents specifically but were unsuccessful … Even though it isn’t possible now I will keep trying. It is so important.’

Graphing lesson

‘Kids generally iffy about concepts, are not happy with textbook page. (Kids get confused.) Better off doing a cut and paste, something physical, eg sorting clothes, something more relevant, eg television programs or characters.’

Organisation of Mathematics program

The mathematics program was developed by the school Mathematics Committee for each Stage of learning across the school. The whole year’s program is based on the textbook, Targeting Mathematics. The sequences were produced and given to each teacher responsible for making links to the Mathematics K–6 Syllabus. Teachers monitored the student performance and modified the program to suit the class. Difficulties sometimes arose when the time frames conflicted with teachers’ capacity to assist all students to achieve learning outcomes.

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