Staff from the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA), formerly the Board of Studies, visited Cobar High School last Friday to meet with principal Safija Bristina and her staff.
CEO David de Carvalho and liaison officers Susan Barrie and Denise McHugh met with Ms Bristina, as well as the school’s executive staff and teachers to discuss any current or future concerns surrounding NSW education.
“I felt it was important for me to get out and visit schools,” Mr de Carvalho said.
“Our mission is to help schools be their best so they can help teachers be their best because it’s the quality teaching at the end of the day that makes the difference with student outcomes.”
The week long visit to the Western area included talks with staff at seven primary, secondary and high schools in Lightning Ridge, Walgett, Bourke and Cobar.
Mr Carvalho said they did see some common themes that you would expect at schools in remote areas.
“There is a high proportion of the teaching staff in early careers so what they perhaps lack in experience they make up for in enthusiasm,” he said.
“But there is a big issue for all the staff here in terms of access to high quality professional learning and issues of remoteness from centres like Dubbo, or Sydney so we have been putting our thinking caps on to think about how we can help facilitate more meaningful professional learning opportunities for people in these remote areas.”
Mr Carvahlo noted a number of obstacles Cobar High faced included senior secondary reduced subject choices and timetabling; and problems with retaining students due to Cobar’s transient mining-related population.
He was impressed to hear about the school’s innovative approaches to meet the new minimum literacy and numeracy standard.
“Here at Cobar, in Stage 4, Years 7 and 8, they have a really strong focus on literacy and numeracy which is seeing results increase dramatically.
“The numeracy results in particular for NAPLAN Year 9 are showing quite dramatic improvement.”
Ms Barrie said western area schools have also been innovative in the ways that they have integrated the technology within the constraints of their budgets.
Mr de Carvahlo said the tour had been very interesting and they will be taking on board lots of the staff suggestions for improvements.