Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 11 Hansard (23 October) . . Page.. 4119 ..
for any young person. I have never seen a more appealing kindergarten space. Full marks to the ladybugs teacher, Mrs May, who allowed us to interrupt her reading class.
There are activities at lunchtime: Lego clubs, sports activities, master chef classes supported by Communities@Work where a box of produce arrives at the school and the challenge is for students to make something yummy out of it. We heard that the zucchini muffins last week were very popular. There is a YWCA clubhouse located at the school, and each Wednesday is a waste-free day. Each class is assessed for how much waste they have brought in their lunch boxes, and scores are displayed each week on a wall in the foyer and, boy, does it get competitive.
Great efforts have been made to develop a positive behaviour culture and DABs are given out to students for a range of positive behaviours. The house that receives the most DABs over a period gets to have their house colours displayed on the DAB model and the house captain must do a DAB in front of the Assembly when receiving the statue.
Richardson Primary is not one of those schools blessed with high SES-level demographics or a great history of success. In fact, in previous years truancy, suspensions and other challenges were commonplace. But the support of the school community, a principal who was determined to make Richardson the best it could be and an attitude of belief in the school by the staff and the community have done wonders.
The changes in this school are not the result of bucket loads of money; it is not picket fences and shining new laptops; it is the belief that a good leader produces great teams, teams that collaborate, share ideas and measure their success. Richardson Primary School has a whole-school approach to teaching and learning.
Key principles include students being able to explain what they are learning and why, teachers knowing the needs of every student, feedback being given regularly, students working cooperatively and, most important of all, students being responsible for their learning. With that approach, recently the school won the STEM challenge for local schools. As the principal herself said, who would have believed it possible?
Another school that has stared down negative attitudes, difficult culture and more than the usual number of students with complex needs and challenging behaviours is UC Kaleen high. It is well known that in recent years Kaleen struggled to attract even local families; it was "anywhere but Kaleen" for parents with children graduating from local primary schools. Enrolments were declining, its reputation was poor and Kaleen was looking like a basket case. No more! The school is growing; there is a sense of pride among the students, three of whom I met who were very impressive young people with a clear sense of where they wanted to be in life.
The range of courses on offer includes agriculture, woodworking, languages. I might say, their facilities would be the envy of many commercial enterprises. They have strong local engagement with such groups as the model-train makers, who are able to use their facilities and share their knowledge with the students.