Wadalba Community School

About this Item
SpeakersHarris Mr David; Assistant-Speaker (Mr Grant McBride)
BusinessPrivate Members Statements, PRIV

Page: 23390

Mr DAVID HARRIS (Wyong—Parliamentary Secretary) [1.05 p.m.]: I stand in support of the teachers and students at Wadalba Community School, where every day over 1,000 students go to school safely, are supported by a committed staff, learn well and enjoy themselves. It is regrettable that a recent violent incident occurred. No-one condones violence, least of all at a school. It is being dealt with seriously and both the perpetrator and victim are being provided with the support and the care they need and deserve.

Schools are overwhelmingly safe places and when incidents such as this occur schools live up to their duty to educate all young people in their care about appropriate social behaviour. They take the appropriate steps to reduce risk and to learn from the incident. Wadalba Community School has a diverse student population. The overwhelming majority of students are terrific young people who make their school proud. Their school values of respect, responsibility and excellence drive the day-to-day operations of the school and are observed by the student population in general.

Over the past three years the school has reduced the number of serious incidents that warrant long suspension by more than half. They have put a range of programs in place that assist young people to act appropriately and feel safe and supported at school. Those programs include: One Punch Can Kill; Rock and Water, a program that is run by the school liaison police officer for year 7 students that addresses all forms of bullying; and Positive Behaviour for Learning, which promotes explicit teaching of positive behaviour. Additionally, the school liaison police officer visits the school on a weekly basis and interacts in the playground and classrooms with students.
    In 2010 the school introduced a middle school program reducing the number of teachers that interact with year 7 students in a week from 11 to five. This wraps strong support around the young people in their transition to high school. The school has strong programs for its indigenous students. The Government provides a full-time school learning support officer and the school also pays for a part-time officer from its global budget. These officers work with Aboriginal students to ensure they are supported and successful at school. They run an aunties and uncles program where older students support younger students with issues in the playground and in class.
      The school has also revamped its leadership program in the past three years. The student council, which has representatives from years 7 to 12, works with the eight school captains across three portfolios to ensure the school is a happy, productive place where students come to learn. The social justice portfolio supports a range of programs in the school. These include anti-racism programs, anti-bullying programs, harmony day, and reconciliation activities. Just this weekend more than 40 students volunteered to support the Red Shield Appeal doorknock.
        The school promotions committee runs school assemblies and celebration days. It has been working on the school's website and writes for the school newsletter promoting the great things that happen every day in the school with and for the majority of students. The spirit and image team has increased students' participation in school events, such as the swimming carnival, by more than a third. It has introduced Wadalba Idol and updated a mural at the front of the school.

        Additionally, the school's academic programs are outstanding. They are a part of a consortium of local high schools that are trade training centres. Their speciality is construction and they have strong relationships with local business. They have responded to the school leaving age legislation in a very positive way and have a "three schools within a school" concept—an academic stream, a vocational stream and a job-ready stream—that meets the needs of the full range of students at the school. Their academic performance has improved over the past three years and last year they had their first band 6 in the School Certificate. Their National Assessment Program—Literacy and Numeracy results are also improving and results for indigenous students are particularly noteworthy, with this group of students performing above the target.

        This is not a school out of control; this is a school that is offering a wide and varied program to a diverse group of students. It is a school where every day the majority of students turn up, learn, enjoy themselves and are safe. Violent incidents are regrettable. No-one in the community condones violence. What matters is how the school and its community respond to them. I know the education department and the local community are assisting the school in dealing with some of the incidents that have been reported in the media recently. Wadalba Community School has an open and transparent policy. Despite what the Liberal candidate for my seat said on radio this morning, the school's anti-bullying policy is available on the school website. I would prefer it if, before he makes public statements, he checked such simple facts.

        Mr Andrew Constance: Point of order. An attack on someone must be by way of substantive motion.

        ASSISTANT-SPEAKER (Mr Grant McBride): Order! There is no point of order. Standing Order 73 refers only to reflections on members of Parliament.

        Mr DAVID HARRIS: This school is doing a great job by its students and I will stand at any time in this House to support the principal, teachers and students in the work they do every day at Wadalba Community School.