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Performance and achievements

Goondiwindi State High School has been recognised at the Department of Education and Training's 2018 Showcase Awards for Excellence in Schools, earning the accolade for an innovative teaching program that has significantly improved the writing outcomes of its students.
 
Since introducing the program almost four years ago, the rural school has showed positive gains in student NAPLAN writing results and A-E data, and received national recognition for excellence in professional practice from the Australian Council for Education Research (ACER).
 
Principal of Goondiwindi State High School, Brett Hallett and Master Teacher, Bernadette Hawker below explain in more detail this important program.
 
"From the very beginning, the aim of the program has been to make every teacher in our school responsible for the teaching of writing.  So, it doesn't matter whether you're the History, Science, Maths or English teacher, we are all responsible for the literacy improvement of our students", Bernadette said.
 
The 'write' direction
When Bernadette was appointed Master Teacher in early 2015, a detailed analysis of the school's most recent NAPLAN data showed writing was a key area of concern.  With the support of Brett she did a deep dive into the issues behind it.
 
She said the key learning from staff was that not all teachers felt they had the knowledge or confidence when it came to the teaching of writing.  This led to the establishment of a research-informed program to build the collaborative confidence and capacity of the staff to teach writing effectively.
 
'What we found was that as a science teacher, you may not necessarily have the knowledge or the confident to teach writing specifically, so a lot of our work has been about building capacity and confidence of our staff to use a consistent meta language to know how to teach the different elements of writing regardless of their subject area."
 
She said the program kicked off with the establishment of a Professional Learning Community and a STEAM (Smart Teachers Enthusiastically Achieving More) Team who met every fortnight for 40 minutes before school to collaboratively share strategies and teaching tools.  Strategies are shared and modelled in the meetings and used in the classroom.
 
The program was initially trialled with one grade and a small group of teachers, and scaled up over the years to include all year levels and now more that three-quarters of teachers participating in STEAM team meetings.
 
A model of excellence
Recognised on a national platform by ACER, and now acknowledged by the State as a model of excellence in teaching, Brett said he would be please if other schools used Goondiwindi's model to boost their own learning outcomes.
 
"Teachers who transfer out of our school back to the cities say they will miss the program, the collegiality amongst the teachers who work together to model new strategies, and seeing the daily impact they have on the students.  I know they are taking these learnings an tools with them and I am enormously proud of that."
 
Brett said he was also proud of the recognition the Award would bring the school.
 
"I am absolutely passionate about rural and remote education.  My core motivation is equity.  Postcode does sometimes define, so anything that puts the rural schools. the students and staff on a pedestal to celebrate our achievements with the amount of obstacles and challenges we have to overcome is just priceless."

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