Primary Connections supports remote and Indigenous students

The Academy's Primary Connections program connects children from Tjuntjuntjara with the world around them through inquiry, questioning and investigation. Teacher training (centre bottom) is crucial to the success of Primary Connections.

Primary Connections recently held an introductory workshop in Perth to help support teachers from schools with significant Indigenous enrolments. The workshop was fully funded by donations made through the Academy’s Enlightening campaign, giving teachers from remote communities the opportunity to attend.

Tjuntjuntjara Remote Community School is Australia’s most remote school, in the Great Victoria Desert close to the border with South Australia, 680 kilometres north-east of Kalgoorlie. The school has 30 students from the Ananyu (arn-a-noo) community, whose first language is Pitjantjatjara and second is Aboriginal English.

Just like children anywhere else in the world they are fascinated and intrigued by science. They are also very willing to share their world and cultural knowledge with you.

Jennifer Frost, who received an Enlightening travel bursary to attend the April workshop, has lived and worked in isolated communities throughout her life.

‘Working at Tjuntjuntjara is very challenging but, as much as it’s a cliché, it is very rewarding. The children are free spirits and certainly keep you on your toes, but they are genuinely caring and eager to learn new things,’ she said.

‘Just like children anywhere else in the world they are fascinated and intrigued by science. They are also very willing to share their world and cultural knowledge with you.’

Jennifer said the structure of the Primary Connections program has helped overcome several issues including student transience (moving from one community to another for cultural business).

‘An advantage of using PC is the children’s familiarity with the content and processes which assists them settling back into the classroom routine when they return,’ she said.

Most of the students also have hearing difficulties, and units such as ‘Look! Listen!’ have proven useful tools to engage students to listen and focus on the world around them.

‘PC connects these children with the world around them in a different way through inquiry, questioning and investigation. The inquiries are easily adaptable to suit the environment that they are conducted in,’ Jennifer said.

School principal Charlie (Wilbur) Klein was eager for Jennifer to attend the workshop.

‘We see this as an excellent opportunity to provide professional learning to support our science program and improve our knowledge and skills. On Jennie’s return we will utilise her increased knowledge and understanding through a local professional learning activity to share the learning with the whole staff,’ Charlie said.

Jennifer is currently training new teachers at her school with the knowledge she gained from the workshop and on behalf of all the staff and students at her school has expressed her gratitude to donors for helping the school community. 

More about Primary Connections

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