How Mossman made the grade
Nation’s 48th most improved school
THERE’S no more standing still at Mossman State Primary School.
Determined, skilled and passionate staff are pushing the school – themselves and the students – on an upward path. The school last year came 48th in terms of improvement in the NAPLAN results of all primary schools in Australia. Forty-eighth!
And recently the State Education Department lauded Mossman with a Showcase Award for
FROM PAGE 1 Excellence in Early and Primary Years – one of only five awards in various categories for the whole Peninsula region of Queensland.
The results are so remarkable the normally humble staff have had to overcome their reticence to talk themselves up.
Such metrics and awards confirm for Principal Randal Smith the effectiveness of the school’s path and methods.
“Frankly, not that long ago our results were very poor. The NAPLAN stats were a sea of red (for underperformance across various categories).
Something had to be done; to stand still was not an option.
The Regional Director for Education Queensland for the Peninsula Region studied alternative pedagogies and put forward the Explicit Instruction method as an alternative.
Though controversial to some degree, there are plenty of stories as to its effectiveness.
Mossman, along with several others in the Douglas Cluster, redirected itself towards Explicit Instruction.
In just a few years the NAPLAN stats have turned into a sea of green. It’s a plain and simple measurement of great achievement by the school.
In February the CEO of the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, which runs NAPLAN, wrote to the Mossman Principal to say that the school had achieved “substantially above average results in all NAPLAN areas relative to the national trends.
“Gains of this magnitude are significant and worthy of highlighting and acknowledging,” Robert Randall said. But there’s more than that. The stats Mr Smith are most proud of and encouraged by are those that talk about trend – that is, improvement.
“What we’ve done over the last five years is a research-driven, data-influenced improvement agenda,” Mr Smith says.
“Improvement is the key, but that sits alongside a couple of things – it’s the art of teaching, what you’re teaching (the Australian curriculum), and then there’s the improvement around attendance, around behavior and the relationships.
“As a school we believe the No 1 priority is getting the relationship-driven stuff right – relationships between the kids, the relationship between the school and the families, and also the relationship between the teacher and the students.
“Once we get the relationships we get engagement.
“That engagement means the students want to learn, and the teachers want to be better teachers. It brings higher expectations of the students, not low expectations – super high expectations and we want our kids to rise to that challenge.
“A result of engagement is achievement. That’s what we’re getting now, and the Showcase award is a combination of those factors.”
There is enormous positivity in the school. The students are turning up – “because they feel successful”, says Mr Smith. The teachers have great morale – “because they know they are making a difference. It’s called teacher efficacy.
They are feeding off that achievement in the students.”
In the past, he says, teachers worked hard but we weren’t always seeing the results. “Now the teachers have heightened expectations of themselves and of the students.”
Mossman State School class 1/2 1/2, with Mrs Savage (centre) and Mrs Case (far right)