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Students succeed in NAPLAN test

HUNTER schools have attributed their improved NAPLAN performance to providing more personalised support to students, professional development for teachers and extra emphasis on literacy.

The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) will update the My School website on Wednesday to reflect each school’s performance in the NAPLAN tests last May.

ACARA identified five Hunter schools – Belmont Public, St John Vianney Primary at Morisset, Barnsley Public, St John the Baptist Primary at Maitland and St Philip’s Christian College at Cessnock – as having made “substantially above average gains” deemed “significant and worthy of acknowledgement”.

St John the Baptist principal Mandy Sanderson said she was “very proud” her year five class of 2016 had improved in reading since they were tested in year three. “It’s validated all of our hard work,” she said.

Ms Sanderson said over the past three years her staff had developed agreed teaching practices, been consolidating their professional development and were frequently learning from each other in the classroom. The school has introduced a timetable to ensure all children study the same subjects – uninterrupted – at the same time.

“We also have immediate intervention for students who have not yet reached the appropriate skill level and immediate extension for those achieving beyond competency,” she said.

Students excelling in one subject are given extra extension work in class, while pupils achieving in a number of subjects attend an additional activity group once a week.

Ms Sanderson said year five students had also improved their numeracy skills since year three. All classes sit a short maths test on Fridays and students who need help attend an extra support group every afternoon for the following week.

"Teachers have high expectations of students and students have high expectations of themselves."

St Philip’s principal Darren Cox said he was “extremely happy” his year nine class of 2016 had improved in reading since year seven.

He said the teachers made time during English to deliver literacy lessons targeting different skill levels, which could include students reading to a peer and identifying words they didn’t understand for investigation.

Staff across all subject areas have also been trained to make literacy a priority.

“So if in PE [physical education] you have to write an essay, you still have to make sure you’ve ordered your paragraphs correctly.”

Mr Cox said teachers receive feedback after a twice-yearly student and staff survey, work with a colleague acting as a coach to achieve goals and observe their colleagues during lessons at least twice each term.

Barnsley Public head of pedagogy Vanessa Linstrom said the school was “very pleased” to see the year five class of 2016 had improved in numeracy since they were tested in year three.

She said the school had adopted John Fleming’s explicit direct instruction teaching practice.

"Each lessons is broken down so students experience success in each stage of the learning process," he said. 

"We also use data walls so we can pinpoint where our students’ areas of need are."

"Teachers have high expectations of students and students have high expectations of themselves."