THERE were settlers in the schoolyard when Holy Family Primary School held a colonial Australia dress-up day for year five students recently.
And the day was about more than just history: students donated gold coins to wear casual clothes and the money will be used to help out a Bathurst boy who is doing it tough.
Year five teacher Alison Curtin said students had been studying various periods of Australian history: the First Fleet for year four, from 1788 to Federation for year five and from 1901 to the present day for year six.
She said students had been researching colonial houses and had produced their own using recycled materials.
The school’s full-time Aboriginal teachers’ aide had also worked with two Aboriginal students on indigenous games and sharing their culture.
“They [the students] desperately want to be in touch with their culture and he [the aide] is a fabulous role model for those boys,” Ms Curtin said.
She said the students had reached the point where they could now direct the indigenous games, while they had also written their own acknowledgement to country.
Ms Curtin said social justice – including looking after those in need – was a big element of the year five religious curriculum.
“These kids are really on board with social justice – acting it and putting it into practice,” she said.
She said money collected from the gold coin donations would be used to help St Philomena’s Primary School student Matthew Capper, who was diagnosed with a brain tumour late last year and has since spent a lot of time in Westmead Hospital.
Ms Curtin said history used to be incorporated in the HSIE (human society and its environment) subject, but it was now its own subject.
She said there was a new emphasis on having a continuity in the subject from kindergarten to year 10 and students’ knowledge and skills were improving as a result of this change.
Holy Family teacher James Farr, who knows Matthew through his previous position as principal at St Philomena’s, said activities such as the dress-up day would help reinforce what the students had been learning about how life was lived in the early days of Australia.
He said students remember 10 per cent of what they hear, but 80 per cent of what they do.