Friday / June 14

School Impact Process – The Sapphire Learning Alliance: Inspiring Each Other [Excerpt]

Context Matters

On the traditional lands of the Kamilaroi people, the Sapphire Community of Schools spans approximately 7800
square kilometres in the Northern Tablelands of rural New South Wales. Judith Wright’s1 “clean, lean, hungry country”, some years the land is parched and dry from drought and other years the air is thick with the haze of nearby bushfires. There are seven schools in this community; Inverell High School, Inverell Public School, Ross Hill Public School, Macintyre High School, Delungra Public School, Gilgai Public School and Tingha Public School, and to these schools, this geography is not incidental – understanding context is everything.

The harshness of the landscape is challenging community wellbeing, reflected in experiences of trauma,
compromised mental health and higher-than-average rates of domestic violence. Context matters because it’s with the consequences of these realities that the schools must contend every day.

This is where their three-year engagement with Visible Learning+ School Improvement Process (SIP) has been
instrumental, as the Sapphire schools not only work within their unique circumstances but empower students in their learning and teachers in their understandings of their impact. Carla, a Head Teacher and Impact coach at Macintyre High School gives a keen insight into the types of situations confronting their students:

“Our kids are currently on the frontline. They go home; they feed their stock; they help their mums and dads at night;
they don’t go to bed till 12 o’clock and they have an HSC exam the next morning, after they’ve already helped dad
in the paddock before they come to school. Our kids are facing the problems of regional Australia – adult problems.”

Naomi, another Head Teacher and Impact Coach from Inverell High recognises the responsibilities their schools hold in encouraging their students to be drivers of their own lifelong learning:

“We’re trying to make it that kids see that value and [we] create some kind of generational change with valuing education… [students] seeing the opportunities, not just something they have to do if they feel like it.”

Read the full story here:

Written by

Dr. Pam Ryan is an educator who consults in Australia and internationally on leadership and school and system transformation. Having previously been Industry Professor (Learning and Education) in the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology Sydney, Pam is now Adjunct Professor there. Previously Pam spent 10 years as secondary principal and 11 years as an Education Director in NSW and Hong Kong. Pam has authored: Leadership in Education: Learning from Experience (2015); Wise Heads Wise Hearts (2016), and Action and Reflection Tools for Busy School Leaders (2017).

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