Pozieres State School students are mastering technology and taking responsibility for their achievements, thanks to a successful program for students in the early years of schooling.
By immersing themselves in the 'KIT' (Kids Into Technology) Program since 2001, Pozieres State School students have become comfortable, competent, confident and critical users of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) as a tool for learning. The school believes successful integration of ICTs into the curriculum is integral to the success of students becoming lifelong learners.
Students create and maintain a digital portfolio of their curricular and extracurricular achievements and work samples across all key learning areas. Each portfolio consists of scanned, typed or videotaped work samples, in addition to copies of their Year 2 Diagnostic Net Continuum and results from the Years 3, 5 and 7 tests.
Students have access to internet-enabled multimedia ICT devices for all learning activities, for example MovieMaker 2, which is designed to capture and edit video clips to be inserted into their digital portfolios.
Not only does this approach enable students to critically evaluate and improve their work, it also strengthens assessment and reporting mechanisms, giving parents a clear picture of their child's progress.
The school is sharing its experience of digital portfolios with other schools and has created a CD resource outlining the benefits of the initiative.
As a result of the program, Pozieres State School has consistently surpassed state averages in every aspect of the School Opinion Surveys from 2002 until 2005.
Allora State School's Pathways to Success program has helped move the school from a traditional institution to a flexible, dynamic learning centre. The creation of a middle school has been a driving force behind Allora's transformation.
The program creates an environment that better caters for student needs, creates more pathways to further study, work and training opportunities and prepares students for responsible decision-making. It promotes a culture of learning that will continue beyond school.
Over the past five years, the P - 10 school has transformed its curriculum and behaviour management systems from traditional to innovative and responsive to current educational reforms.
Curriculum reform has created learning pathways that focus on the future, bringing a fresh energy to subject choice by providing more than 50 electives for students to sample between Years 6 and 10. By the time they reach Year 8, middle school students may have progressed substantially into a particular area of study. Asking students to make decisions about their study from Year 6 not only develops their decision-making skills, but gives them an opportunity to consider their future.
With a greater variety of pathways to work and further study, students are now nominating more varied career preferences. In a 1995 survey of students' elective choices, students were more likely to display gender bias in subject selection, for example, girls were concentrated in typing and business principles classes, with boys preferring manual arts. Allora's broader elective choice has added agricultural science, visual and performing arts and computer studies to its spectrum of subjects, and students are displaying far less gender bias in their choices.
Incentives to reward positive behaviour and the use of a behavioural levels system have resulted in 94 percent of students achieving satisfactory or above in behaviour levels. Behaviour levels have increased substantially, with 94 percent of students' behaviour recorded as acceptable or above in 2006. In terms of reading levels, more than
95 percent of students are now progressing on an age-appropriate level or above.
St George State School's Music: Count Me In! program is using the arts to inspire all students' enthusiasm for learning. The program is an inclusive whole-school music program that removes barriers and enriches student experience.
St George is a rural and remote school with a diverse range of backgrounds among its 282-strong student population. While the community at large had not placed a high value on the arts before the program was introduced, music's ability to capture students' enthusiasm has ensured this program's success since its inception in 2003.
All students from Prep to Year 7 participate in the classroom music program, while many elect to participate in more specialised activities including choirs and instrumental music. This year, more than 120 students are participating in choir activities, with more than 50 students volunteering for the junior or senior school bands.
More than 20 students with specific musical talents are participating in the school rock band and instrumental music program.
Award-winning eisteddfod performances and well-received public appearances have seen the average membership of the school's various bands, choirs and musical groups continue to rise. The school won five awards in the Goondiwindi Eisteddfod in 2003, as opposed to 34 awards in 2005. Between 2003 and 2006, up to 45 percent of students have been part of the school's bands or choral program.
Participating teachers have also been recognised with Australia Day Achievement Awards.
Oakey State High School's Transport Employees for the Community, or TEC Toolbox program, prepares students from Years 9 to 12 for jobs in the transport and logistics industry.
When the course began in July 2005, 13 students enrolled, many of whom were at risk of disengaging from the education system.
Students develop an understanding of rail, infrastructure, road transport, logistics, freight, maritime operations, aviation and warehousing. They spend four days each week studying theoretical components, with the remaining day spent in practical learning onsite.
The registered training organisation South Queensland Institute of TAFE, Toowoomba provides learning materials and support for the program. Community partnerships with TAFE and a range of local employers have ensured the subject's success.
The program already boasts a 30-percent employment rate, with another 50 percent of students securing apprenticeships or traineeships. The remainder of the group are continuing their studies.
Striving for excellence and a commitment to engaging young people in meaningful learning underpins Pittsworth State High School's philosophy.
Under the Hot Pathways to Cool Careers program, the school has boosted the flexibility of senior pathways, vocational education, school-based apprenticeships and traineeships, Year 10 activities and individual pathways. This has significantly improved social, academic and employment outcomes for students in the Senior Phase of Learning.
Pittsworth's Senior Phase of Learning reforms resulted in outstanding 'learning or earning' outcomes in the 2005 Next Step Survey. The survey found that 100 percent of students who left school at the end of 2004 were employed full-time or engaged in further study. At this early stage 97 percent of 2005 graduates are successfully studying or employed. This represents a substantial improvement from 2003 data, which showed more than 11 percent of students were unemployed after completing Year 10.
Every Year 12 student from Pittsworth's 2005 class who applied for a tertiary place received a first-round offer and 89 percent received their first preference.
The school's commitment to building strong and productive partnerships with its local community has widened the avenues open to students and is benefiting the community by addressing skills shortages. These reforms are premised on learning in partnership with others and preparing students for the world as it is now and as it might be in the future.
Where do you go when your life at school is a constant battle to fit in, your home life is unpredictable and your feelings are in turmoil?
The Toowoomba Flexischool (TFS) accepts students for who they are and helps them re-engage with education by catering to their specific needs. They experience social, emotional and educational success and their pathways to work or further study become clear.
Operating since 1998, the program currently services students in Years 10, 11 and 12 from 22 schools. It is based in the Toowoomba Youth Centre facility owned by Toowoomba City Council, with the school program managed by Centenary Heights State High School.
Partnerships with community groups, training and employment services, local government and Education Queensland have brought strong support in terms of funding and resources.
The school offers a program that caters for students' emotional and social needs before they engage in academic or work preparation courses. It is the pastoral care and one-on-one support that sets TFS apart from other schools.
The learning program features a full range of syllabus subjects for Years 10, 11 and 12 students, as well as general literacy and numeracy classes. Additional electives on relationships education, transitions to work, health, multimedia and physical education ensure students have a broad selection of learning options.
TFS had about six students enrolled in 2000. This grew to more than 120 in 2005, with the success of TFS and its growing popularity resulting a limit of 80 enrolments each year.
Reaching boys at risk of disengaging from the education system was the focus of a project trialled by Miles State School in 2005.
The BEAM (Boys Education at Miles) project aimed to improve literacy, engagement and participation in schooling for boys. It created the 'Barbarian' class to give 15 selected boys a chance to re-engage with education and develop skills to help them into high school.
Teachers adopted a completely flexible approach, modifying tasks, teaching styles and timetabling of specialist support staff. The class used a broad range of boys' education resources and worked through a rich program of learning, focusing specifically on literacy and the development of students' social skills.
Daily reading activities, popular music units, a Remembrance Day project and the production of a short film successfully harnessed students' enthusiasm.
In one year the students' average spelling age increased by 1.6 years and 75 percent of students improved their overall literacy levels. One-hundred percent of parents believed the Barbarian class was a success, and a teacher involved in the project received a Teacher Excellence Award in 2005 for his work with the class.
The ePortfolio Alliance is a network of teachers and school administrators successfully engaging in professional learning about ePortfolios.
An ePortfolio is the presentation of student achievement by linking multiple files, such as documents, videos, graphics and audio files.
The ePortfolio Alliance was established in November 2003 and represents an application of existing information and communication technology (ICT) resources in primary, special and secondary schools.
The alliance features a network of 12 schools linked to University of Southern Queensland researcher Dr Thomas Otto, who has developed a PhD research study around the project.
The ePortfolio integrates ICTs and assessment and reporting across all subject areas. It provides an effective assessment model for teachers and, in addition to building their ICT skills, gives students a greater understanding and appreciation of their learning achievements. Parents are also able to get a clear picture of their child's progress in terms of learning outcomes.
A CD-ROM has been produced and distributed to all schools in the Toowoomba and Darling Downs Districts to share information about the educational benefits of ePortfolios. A series of staff development sessions for participating schools has provided valuable training for teachers and other staff in the use of ICTs. More than 200 teachers and other staff have participated in this professional development since 2005.
The Workforce Learning Framework developed for the ePortfolio Alliance is being adopted by projects throughout the Darling Downs and south-west Queensland region.
In 2005, 64 students from Mungallala, Muckadilla, Dunkeld and Mitchell State Schools gathered for a stage presentation that blended the age-old skills of performance and the arts with the modern aspects of information and communication technologies (ICTs).
Students in rural and remote schools have the opportunity to experience stage productions touring the outback yearly, but rarely do students become performers themselves.
In the lead-up to the debut of the school's original production of Playing Through the Seasons, students from Years 3 to 7 embarked on filmmaking journeys. Much of the creative discussion occurred using chat rooms, email and online poll forums. Students have shown a marked increase in self-esteem and confidence since participating in the project and responses from parents have also been positive.
Community partnerships played a vital role in the success of the production, with financial support from local councils, community members helping with the set-up of a projector and screen, even the local fire brigade lending a hand by installing cabling high in Mungallala Community Hall roof.
Tambo State School's Developing Positive Change project creates new learning pathways for students in the middle phase of schooling.
The majority of students at this P - 10 school have limited exposure to life outside of their small rural and remote community. Prompted by a perceived lack of motivation for learning shown by Tambo's secondary students, the program exposes them to a range of new experiences to help broaden possible pathways to the future.
Under the program, students in Years 9 and 10 may pursue vocational education, such as agricultural certificate courses or hairdressing, in addition to flexible timetables and virtual schooling options. Middle years students from Years 4 to 10 have access to a range of other learning experiences as part of the program. These include increased literacy support, musical activities, athletics, triathlon and specialist coaching events, share market simulations and robotics and technology activities.
The program has improved results in the Years 5 and 7 literacy tests and a range of outstanding individual student achievements, while parents have recorded a 20-percent increase in positive feedback in School Opinion Surveys. The program has already won a 2005 National Award for Quality Schooling for excellence in school improvement and two Australia Day Awards for community contributions.
In 2005 81 percent of students from Years 4 to 10 scored above reading benchmarks for their year level, with 30 percent recording very high achievements.
All students from the Year 10 class of 2004 went onto further schooling, training or full-time employment.
The Pittsworth State High School Middle School has now been in full operation for four years, after a pilot program in 2001.
The first graduates of the middle schooling program completed Year 12 in 2005.
The Middle School has developed unique approaches to student management, teacher practices and students' learning. It features a gifted and talented program, a mentor program and the continual introduction of new technologies across the curriculum.
Regular monitoring and modifications to unit planning and teaching strategies ensures the program continues to respond to student needs. Trial single sex classes for boys, Year 8 camps, enhanced teacher networking and collaborations with local primary schools for a range of learning activities are among the other innovations introduced since the program was established.
Results in the Core Skills Test are outstanding, with 35.7 percent of students gaining As in contrast to the state average of 14.7 percent. Student behaviour has significantly improved, parents are strongly supportive and other schools frequently visit the school to view the Middle School program.
Goondiwindi State High School has engaged the strong support of its rural community to enhance learning opportunities and outcomes for students.
Goondiwindi State High School's $8,000 tertiary bursary, which is funded by community organisations and industry, aims to ensure skilled people return to the local area after university. The school's partnership with the cotton industry and the MacIntyre Cluster Youth Initiative is creating new pathways for students.
Goondiwindi State High has been instrumental in the establishment of the $1.2m Goondiwindi Training and Technology Centre, a community owned educational centre for people of all ages to pursue a range of training options. Goondiwindi's school-based apprenticeships and traineeships program has more than 200 students and 150 local employers participating, with more than 17 different traineeships on offer. The percentage of students awarded a Senior Certificate who have also achieved a vocational education qualification has increased from 81 percent in 2002 to 93 percent in 2005.
The school has also helped to establish a newly opened $2.3m indoor community sports centre, working as part of a local consortium with the Department of Sport and Recreation, Education Queensland, local authorities, sporting organisations and the Police and Citizens Youth Club to construct the centre.
Located in a rural area on the Western Downs, Tara Shire State College is a P - 12 school that has undergone a dramatic transformation over the past three years.
Following a review in late 2003, a team of committed parents, staff, students and community members created a strategy to improve the school at all levels. The program was identified as a critical component of the local community renewal campaign. Following a name change from Tara State School, Tara Shire State College came into being and 'Sustaining Rural Futures' became its vision.
The platforms for school improvement were identified as the whole-school curriculum framework, management framework, leadership strategies, and relationships with the community. The focus on fostering community partnerships has led to strengthened links with the local shire council, local environmental projects and a greater contribution to the community renewal process, through the Tara Community Action Team.
Students have participated in a number of community projects, such as designing signage for a local lagoon area and the National Livestock Identification Scheme to assist local primary industries.
New learning programs include a middle years literacy and numeracy project, a new online learning centre and a focused campaign to create school-based apprenticeships and traineeships. In 2003, there were no school-based apprenticeships or traineeships, while in 2006, 25 school-based trainees, representing 46 percent of Year 11 and 12 students, are engaged in work placements. More than 90 percent of these trainees are working in Tara businesses, contributing to the future of the local economy.