Research shows that poor literacy is a major contributing factor to the disengagement of Middle Phase learners. Kirwan State High School has addressed this issue by developing and implementing Literate Practices, a core subject for Years 8, 9 and 10 students.
The Literate Practices program is designed to meet the needs of all students, whether they are reading at Year 1 or Year 12 level. Prompted by 2002 research findings for the Whole School Literacy Strategy, the school decided to focus on the difficulties many Middle Phase students were experiencing with literacy.
Boosting teachers' literacy education skills and streaming students into teams according to reading ability have brought outstanding results, with 1200 students currently working on the Literate Practices program.
Data shows that Literate Practices is achieving improved outcomes for Middle Phase learners in their literacy levels and core subject areas. In the first year, average comprehension rates rose by 32 percent. After two years, the number of students reading at a secondary level jumped by almost 30 percent.
Since 2003, Spinifex State College - Mount Isa - Junior Campus has worked to improve the learning outcomes of both mainstream students and those with significant social, academic, emotional or behavioural issues.
Located off-campus, the Pathways program reconnects disengaged students by creating individual education programs, using staff teams in collaboration with community agencies.
Pathways students are identified through the school system or other government and community agencies. They are linked to a case manager who meets with the student, their family and teachers to establish an individual support plan. Students are often dealing with issues of anger management, substance abuse and criminal behaviour. Weekly meetings help assess students' progress, monitor their needs and celebrate their successes.
As a result of the program, there has been a jump of almost 30 percent in students receiving a satisfactory or higher result in English. Absentee rates have dropped by more than 30 percent and school suspension rates have decreased by 40 percent. After completing the program, in 2005, 92 percent of students were in meaningful employment or education.
Since 2003 Spinifex State College - Residential Campus has been in a unique position of being able to offer a high level of pastoral support and case management to students from north-west Queensland. This Mount Isa District initiative responds to key goals relating to inclusive education and retention rates.
As the first state-run facility of its kind in Queensland, the campus is designed to provide quality education to students from rural and remote areas of Queensland. An individual approach is the key - from student recruitment, where staff members visit communities to talk about campus life, to transition programs designed to ease the move from home to school. Senior students are supported individually through pathways to the workplace, training or further study.
Eighty-seven percent of students currently enrolled at Spinifex Residential Campus would not have access to face-to-face secondary education without the college. The college boasts 100 percent attendance and participation rates for students, except in cases of illness. All Year 12 students from 2005 are now employed or engaged in further education or training.
Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) are employed throughout Education Queensland to work with educational teams to help students achieve the best possible educational outcomes.
In 2004, schools in the Mount Isa District Cluster decided that increasing caseload pressures on SLPs required a re-evaluation of the way their services were being used.
The cluster embarked on a project that saw SLPs and classroom teachers collaborate in planning and resource provision. The project focused on the pre-literacy skills of students in preschool, Year 1 and Year 2.
The results of the project have been significant in terms of teacher feedback and improved use of SLP time. More than 90 percent of teachers believe the program helped them achieve teaching goals, while 100 percent of teachers wanted to be involved in the 2006 program.
There has also been a 45-percent decrease in SLP referrals between 2004 and 2005, indicating students' needs are being met more effectively, reducing the need for ongoing support. The cluster has produced a CD-ROM featuring resources for Education Queensland staff.
Mundingburra State School's Brainy Learning culture is an inclusive P - 7 curriculum program that fosters emotional awareness and its connection to behavioural choices.
The program uses a range of teaching approaches, such as hardcover books, movies, multimedia activities and a concert, to teach students from preschool to Year 7 about emotions. Journals of work samples and tests provide evidence for assessment, while students also create their own self-assessment journal entries, which they later share with parents. A behaviour code gives students responsibility for their behaviour and emphasises self-reflection and self-management. Resilience, curiosity and compassion are the positive emotions that are central to the Brainy Learning philosophy.
The program has resulted in significant improvements in literacy levels, with a 20-percent drop in Year 2 students requiring additional literacy support since 2002 and an improvement in Years 3, 5 and 7 literacy levels overall, surpassing the state average for similar schools.
Spinifex State College - Mount Isa links with the community to deliver individualised programs to help students achieve their goals.
The campus strives to meet all students' needs through career planning, subject selection, flexible timetabling, individual guidance, industry opportunities and support for tertiary study.
TAFE subjects feature in the school timetable, with two subjects delivered at night. The XStrata Scholarship Program awards $1000 bursaries to Years 11 and 12 students, providing the opportunity to gain VET qualifications.
Links with the Queensland Minerals and Energy Academy and the Mount Isa Youth Pathways Program open up a range of opportunities for all students.
After three years, 90 percent of Year 12 students now achieve meaningful post-school employment, training or further education. This compares with 74 percent nationally. Within the college's 2004/05 Year 12 class, 81 percent of Indigenous students secured full-time employment or engaged in further study. This compares to the national unemployment rate of 45 percent for young Indigenous people aged between 15 and 17 years.
Northern Beaches State High School's AltEx (Alternative Excellence) Program is about opening doors to the world of work by equipping students with the confidence and skills to pursue their career goals.
The program engages students in a range of vocational education and training options, centred around student-generated business projects and traineeships. Participating students must undertake a Certificate II in Business and nominate two specialty areas in construction, engineering, horticulture, hospitality or information technology.
The program was conceived in 2004 to help students at risk of disengaging with the school system. Since then student disciplinary absences and reportable incidents have dropped markedly between, with 99 percent of students achieving behaviour levels between excellent and satisfactory.
More than 21 percent of students are engaged in school-based apprenticeships, while almost 24 percent have gained full-time employment. Ninety-three percent have gained generic work competencies making them more competitive in the job market. More than 87 percent of students expect to gain three or more certificates at graduation.