31 May 2012

Community hubs planned in NSW to lift school results

5:04 am on 31 May 2012

The plan by the state government in New South Wales to overhaul schools in disadvantaged areas has won the support of indigenous education advocates and the opposition.

The ABC reports 15 schools are to be transformed into community hubs in a bid to lift results in Aboriginal and other disadvantaged communities.

In a plan like whanau ora in New Zealand, the schools will offer education, health, parenting support and anti-gambling measures. All will be coordinated from within the school grounds.

Premier Barry O'Farrell told the ABC he had acted out of sheer frustration with poor academic results among Indigenous students, who have shown little improvement in the past 10 years.

In international comparisons, NSW Indigenous students are ranked slightly above Mexico for high school results.

In stage one of the experiment, every part of a school's operation will be deemed open to change and the community will drive the changes.

Schools included in the plan include Walgett, Toomelah, Wilcannia Central School, Boggabilla Central School, as well as 11 other schools from across the state.

Mr O'Farrell says the government will have to tackle two difficult problems to be able to succeed with the programme: generational change and cultural change within bureaucracy.

The NSW Teachers Federation says it supports the programme as long as funding is maintained in the long term.

The ABC reports the next stage of the policy will look at urban schools.