Chifley Electorate: Plumpton High School - Adjournment Speech

I rise to celebrate a terrific example of collaboration which demonstrates what good can be achieved by respecting and valuing the talents of others and then using those talents to their greatest effect. Before I proceed further I think it is important to note, as I did in my inaugural speech, that a third of Chifley’s residents are aged 19 or under, which underlines the importance of ensuring a focus and engagement with young people and their education in the Chifley electorate. For young people in Chifley education is an important and integral path to opportunities in life: the opportunity to help them reach their full potential earlier in their school life makes way for a fresh start to life in the real world. There has been great work done to boost student performance and attendance rates at schools in the Chifley electorate. In particular I would like to put a spotlight on the initiatives of a local school, Plumpton High School, led by principal Eric Jamieson.

Plumpton High School is a success story and a model example of how hard work can reap the full benefits, and in this case to reap the full potential of students at the school. Plumpton High School has worked on developing a culture which uses the enormous untapped potential of its students with a focus on achieving excellence. That approach rests on a desire to improve the quality of education in the school by developing the skills of the teachers and investing in their talents, by setting higher expectations of students and teachers alike, realising that we are better than we think we are and that we sometimes need to be urged to recognise and act upon this. So the school embraces a quality teaching framework. They rely on lots of professional learning and teacher development. Ideas are shared between the teachers and the good experiences are reported between them, while the lessons from things that did not work so well are acknowledged and they are seen as something to build upon.

The teachers there have developed an open and collaborative culture, something that did not necessarily exist in times past. I do not mark that out as a criticism but realise that it is something that they wanted to recognise and develop themselves. Importantly, the teachers let the students know that they are expected to do well as well. They do a lot of work on skill building, working on conflict revolution, setting goals and managing projects with students. They also focus on behaviour in terms of shifting to a positive approach, setting out positive behaviour and learning, working with students, which I think is really important, that they engage the talents of students. They ask them simply, if you go to a cinema or you go to the footy, what are the expectations on your behaviour? Then they basically pick that up and ask, if you are in a student assembly, what is expected of you? If you are in the schoolyard, what is expected of you? Students are given the opportunity to guide and improve the outcome of behaviours in the school. There is an emphasis on being positive but at the same time respectful. They focus primarily on three things: being safe, being respectful and creating a learning environment.

They are also focused on facilities within the school, recognising that a lot of pride has been taken in the facilities around them and improving the outlook to have an effect on educational outcomes. They used their $200,000 wisely from the National School Pride project to improving some of the facilities there. The outcomes have been tremendous and I will quickly reflect on some of the improvements that they have had. There has been an incredible impact on the performance of students in their School Certificate results, and particularly in the HSC bands 4, 5 and 6. From 2005 and 2006 the numbers have gone from 25 per cent to 45 per cent, which is an astounding outcome. On improved behaviour, the referrals of incidents are down from 700 incidents in 2005 to 600, capping or reducing the level of behavioural incidents in the school. The NAPLAN results in numeracy and literacy are showing exceptional outcomes. It is a matter of great pride when I went to their excellence ceremony in September that the principal reported on that. The teachers there are a credit to our local community and engaging the students and then the students taking responsibility in behaviour and outcomes are something to be exceptionally proud of. I commend them all for that great work.

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Ed Husic MP
Federal Labor Member for Chifley


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