How Moss­man made the grade

Na­tion’s 48th most im­proved school

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - SHANE NI­CHOLS

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.”

Pic­ture: SHANE NI­CHOLS

Moss­man State School class 1/2 1/2, with Mrs Sav­age (cen­tre) and Mrs Case (far right)

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