STUDENTS at Bathurst West Public School are undertaking lessons in Wiradyuri language thanks to an ongoing needs-based funding program.
Resource Allocation Model (RAM) funding has allowed the school to introduce the classes which also have the backing of local Wiradyuri elders.
The RAM program is based on five “needs” loadings – socio-economic background, Aboriginal background, English language proficiency, disability and location.
Bathurst West Public School principal Darren Denmead said the Wiradyuri language classes initially started for the school’s Aboriginal students, but due to requests from the wider school population, classes are now part of the curriculum for every child.
“No other schools do it with the support of the elders,” Mr Denmead said.
School language teachers Jane Collins and Leanna Carr-Smith and Aboriginal education officer Tracy Crawford are among those who teach Wiradyuri.
“It’s been an amazing, the kids like it so much,” Ms Collins said.
Ms Crawford said all lessons are taught with the Wiradyuri saying of ‘Yindyamarra’ in mind, which means ‘the wisdom of respectfully knowing how to live well in a world worth living in’.
“We’re teaching the history of our land,” she said.
We’re teaching the history of our land.Aboriginal education officer Tracy Crawford
Along with the Wiradyuri language, students also learn about Aboriginal culture and stories, particularly local stories.
Ms Crawford is a Kamilaroi woman (from the Walgett area) and said it was important students heard stories from the whole history of Australia – the indigenous and the British.
“It makes us different to other schools,” she said.
Mr Denmead said benefits of the language classes have included less negative behaviour and less absenteeism by students.
RAM funding is also used in a number of other areas in the school including literacy and numeracy programs, and individual assistance.
“It makes a massive difference to the school,” he said.
In 2017, Bathurst region schools will receive more than $6 million in RAM funding, with Bathurst West Public School to receive $746,361.