A multi-award winning teacher will lead a Canberra-first approach to closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students when school returns in semester two.
Cara Shipp will open an Indigenous education centre at Campbell High which will incorporate elements of the Big Picture, Stronger Smarter and Aboriginal eight ways philosophies.
It will work in different ways for different children. Depending on their needs, some students will leave the majority of mainstream classes to participate in individualised programs, while others will access additional tutoring through the centre.
NAPLAN results show Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students are up to 20 percentage points behind their non-Indigenous counterparts by year 9. This is the equivalent of about two years of learning.
Ms Shipp, who has been repeatedly recognised for her work in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education, said she believed a new approach was needed.
"I've spent many years talking to educators about bringing Aboriginal perspectives into the classroom which I still think is very important, however, what's missing often is an Aboriginal way of learning or ways of learning that actually are culturally relevant to Aboriginal kids," she said.
"Bringing perspectives into the western classroom is good, it opens the class to different voices and kids do appreciate it, but there's a next step and this is it because that engagement and the attendance and the real commitment to learning will come through a lot more by doing it this way and teaching it in a more culturally relevant way."
Two early career Aboriginal educators, both of whom have a background in non-traditional teaching methods, will join the school's staff. Ms Shipp said she hoped her centre would one day become a resource for central Canberra schools.
Ms Shipp said schools without a dedicated Indigenous education centre could still try new approaches to teaching and learning, encouraging differentiation between students.
Importantly, she said, "We do need to adopt that high expectations kind of strategy that [Indigenous education expert] Chris Sarra talks about and not cotton wool kids and make excuses for them - 'oh well, their family's this or that, no wonder, they're doing a good job just to get in the school doors today'.
"Acknowledge all of those challenges definitely because they're part of who that kid is and what they're bringing, but don't let that be an excuse to expect less of the child."