I was on a phone conference as a member of the Queensland Education Transition Initiative Governance Group (TIGG) and I kept hearing the term ‘whatever it takes’, a term originating from the leadership in Far North Queensland.
I was already impressed with the vigour the Department of Education was taking to address Indigenous boarding but there was something that expressed both the importance and urgency in acting to improve Indigenous boarding. This whatever it takes approach removes some of the self-limiting boundaries of systems that work against each other and are compounded by low expectations.
Although the TIGG is in its early days, it’s not just a thorough leader but an active leader. There is much more to discuss – the first 100 days; that exit schools in communities have a primary role in preparing students for boarding; that to achieve this there needs to be a consistent curriculum; that the changes and outcomes must be measurable and the people responsible, accountable. Each of these topics deserves many more pages and we will endeavour to ensure that what is learnt in Queensland informs the rest of Australia – whatever it takes!
In holding our first Symposium in March this year we were motivated by mobilising boarding schools and residences to a common goal based on our belief that Indigenous education and boarding are complex challenges requiring multifaceted solutions beyond any single organisation, including Boarding Australia.
As we work towards a collective effort to close the educational gap I am consistently witnessing the other 18 hours when students are boarders. This time students spend in boarding is a powerful educational opportunity.
Following the Symposium Boarding Australia formed a collective impact committee. This committee has commenced an initiative to identify the non-academic learning and personal growth outcomes for Indigenous students from attending boarding. Obviously student wellbeing and health are high on this list. The first stage is to identify the outcomes to include what is currently being measured and what measures might apply to the other outcomes.
I am interested to hear from anyone who can contribute to this initiative. Please email [email protected].
If I could change one thing to improve Indigenous boarding I would…?
In a recent workshop in Darwin I asked the question and the responses were interesting:
- I think we should be education funded not as welfare
- I would make funding a combination of fixed and variable costs
- let’s get rid of ABSTUDY red tape about organising travel so we can book travel directly (provision of a travel budget the boarding school/residence would manage and report against, and possibly retain any savings)
- find ways to improve family and community engagement (noting community engagement costs money and is restricted by funding)
- seek greater recognition of student learning, and the wellbeing and personal development of students throughout boarding
I am interested to hear what you would do? Please email me your thoughts at [email protected].
Wishing you all a very happy festive season and for 2019, whatever it takes!
Greg Franks, CEO Boarding Australia