ACT News

NAPLAN scores: The ACT schools that add value

Last year Wanniassa School's Year 7 and 9 students were singled out for their excellent gains in literacy and numeracy learning – this year the success has filtered down to the Year 3s and 5s as well.

Wanniassa is one of 20 Canberra schools identified by the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority for demonstrating an overall gain for students based on NAPLAN scores.

It is not new praise for principal Karin Nagorcka, who is proud of her school's record and puts its sustained success in a personalised learning approach for each child.

Catering for pre-school to Year-10 students, Ms Nagorcka said NAPLAN scores were a small but important part of the educational experience Wanniassa School offered its 500 students as they provide deeper understanding of how students were performing in the vital skills of literacy and numeracy. Wanniassa has a high percentage of indigenous students and a low level of socio-economic advantage.

She believed part of its success lay with the scaffolding literacy program, which used a variety of quality authors and texts to engage each child.

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Numeracy was also targeted through a personalised learning approach so that children received early intervention if they needed it or were challenged by gifted and talented programs.

Deputy principal in charge of the primary years Margaret Taylor said that "school also needs to be a happy and fun place for students to grow to become good citizens".

At Holy Trinity Primary in Curtin, principal Judy Spence attributed her school's success to its dedicated teachers and their ability to "juggle a lot of balls at once".

With Holy Trinity commended by ACARA for its numeracy performance across Years 3 and 5, Ms Spence said the school had embedded numeracy in the curriculum in "a relevant and engaging way".

"Yes students still need to learn their times tables – drill and skill remains important," she said.

"But we show them how numeracy is relevant in their lives, we open discussions about strategies and how to use numbers in the wider world."

Canberra Grammar head of senior school David Smart said the school's strong performance in Year 7-9 numeracy was due to passionate teaching in a positive learning environment.

While Canberra Grammar is historically the ACT's top performer in numeracy league tables based on raw score NAPLAN data, Mr Smart said it was wonderful for the school to celebrate improvements in numeracy learning - even when coming off a high base.

"We love to celebrate the success of our boys and provide them with every opportunity to excel. We try to enriched our learning – not only for the top students but for all our students. We find that that often inspires them to achieve more."

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