Major changes are set to be implemented by the start of 2013 at two Moree schools under the new “Connected Communities” initiative being rolled out by the State Government.
The strategy, which will be introduced to both Moree Secondary College campuses and Moree East Primary School, has been labelled a “new approach” to address the educational and social issues experienced by Aboriginal children in disadvantaged communities.
It aims to overhaul poor academic performance and increase retention rates among Aboriginal students.
Just 15 schools across New South Wales were selected for Connected Communities.
The initiative will see changes to staffing arrangements as well as the school campuses, and the curriculum.
Schools will become community “hubs” to deliver a range of services from birth, through school, to further training and employment.
They will offer health, parenting support and anti-gambling measures as well as education.
An executive director of Connected Communities will oversee the strategy in all of the 15 schools. The position will be filled by an Aboriginal person.
The executive director will start work as early as next month, and report tothe Director General of Education and Communities Michele Bruniges.
Executive principals will then be appointed for each Connected Communities school in October this year.
The positions will be advertised, and will therefore be open to current principals as well.
The executive principals will start working with the Aboriginal community three months ahead of the Connected Communities rollout to develop a plan for the school and local community - including a plan for the “delivery of education and care from birth to employment”.
Education Minister Adrian Piccoli said the salary for the executive principal position would be much higher than for other principals.
“The principals in these schools will become the most highly paid in NSW.,” he said.
“Schools will work closely with the community to develop and implement strategies that will work for them,” Mr Piccoli added.
Department of Education and Communities media liaison officer Grant Hatch said the position offered a significant salary as an incentive for the strategy.
The executive principal would also be responsible for selecting their own staff.
Mr Hatch said as far as he was aware there would be no re-assessment of teachers.
However, the executive principal would need a “different set of skills” to a regular principal.
A position will also be created for a community partnerships leader – an Aboriginal person to liaise between the school and Aboriginal community, and an Aboriginal language and culture teacher.
A school advisory council will be developed, consisting of staff representatives, student representatives, parents and carers, Aboriginal elders or key community members, local business representatives, non-government partner organisations, the executive principal and the community partnerships leader.
The advisory council will help develop the “vision” for the school.
While the plan aims at addressing vital issues in the Moree community, teachers the Moree Champion spoke to said they did not feel fully informed on the changes which would occur in their schools in a matter of months.
General manager of access and equity Deonne Smith will be visiting Moree this week to meet with Connected Communities schools and further discuss the issues.
The schools included across the state in the Connected Communities program are:
Boggabilla Central School, Toomelah Public School, Wilcannia Central School, Walgett Community School, Bourke Public, Bourke High, Moree East, Moree Secondary College, Coonamble High, Coonamble Public, Taree Public, Taree High Brewarrina Central, Menindee Central and Hillvue Public.
The Moree Champion will have more on this issue as the information comes to hand.