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St. Paul's Recognised

30 March 2017 | General Interest

STAR WEEKLY - BRIMBANK & NORTH WEST

MARCH 14, 2017 9:00 AM
BY ALEXANDRA LASKIE

Seven Brimbank schools are among the 400 best performers in Australia, singled out for “substantially above average gains” in NAPLAN test results.

Last Wednesday, the schools – St Paul’s Catholic, St Peter’s Catholic, Glengala, Sunshine, Holy Eucharist Catholic and Stevensville primary schools and St Albans Secondary College – were notified of their students’ “significant” progress from year 3 to year 5, or year 7 to year 9 in either numeracy or literacy, based on the latest test results as notified by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA).

The statutory authority invited the schools to talk about how they achieved these gains so they can help other schools learn from them.

“Gains of this magnitude are significant and worthy of acknowledgement,” an ACARA statement read. ACARA chief executive Robert Randall said while NAPLAN tests only a sample of what students learn during the year, and that “schools are more than their NAPLAN results”, the tests do provide parents with data that allows them to compare results between schools with students from similar socio-economic backgrounds.

“We all need to do more to celebrate and promote where schools have made a significant improvement to student learning, and then work to expect and support improvement across more schools,” Mr Randall said.

St Paul’s Catholic primary school principal Damian Casamento said the school had focused on developing pupils’ oral skills as a way of improving their reading and writing.

He said pupils are encouraged to tell stories that link to the school curriculum, and then write them down.

“It’s not organised role play, but it’s a bit more structured than free play,” he said. “And we link it to their units of inquiry.”

Sunshine West primary school year 5 pupils’ NAPLAN results have jumped from band 4.5, when they were in year 3, to band 6 last year, with the greatest improvements in writing skills.

Mr Casamento said the school had also drawn more on the strengths of its teaching staff.

“We have a numeracy intervention teacher and a full-time literacy teacher who work across all classrooms,” he said. “It’s about finding out the needs of the children, and also using data to show where we need more investment.”

Despite the school’s exemplary NAPLAN performance, Mr Casamento said the annual tests don’t detract from the school curriculum.

“We don’t send copious pages home to practice exams. I try and keep it low-key,” he said. “We want our NAPLAN results to be as good as they can be, but it’s just one tool [to measure performance].”

The 400 top schools were singled out based on overall gains compared to previous years, and gains compared to schools where students have similar levels of educational advantage.