PERTHVILLE Public School punched above its weight when it was a big winner at a recent education awards night.
The small primary school on Bathurst’s southern outskirts was one of 16 winners in its category, but those fellow winners included much bigger schools such as Canterbury Boys High, Holroyd High and Sir Joseph Banks High.
“And we were the only country school to win in that section,” principal Jodie James said.
The occasion was the Public Education Foundation’s 2018 Minister’s and Secretary’s Awards for Excellence and Perthville Public won for Outstanding School Initiative.
The school was recognised for its long-term project to take average NAPLAN results in numeracy and improve them to the point that Perthville Public outperformed the state and statistically similar schools in years three and five last year.
“We have been working on this for four to five years,” Ms James said.
“The program was put in place to move middle performing students into higher levels of achievement.”
A lot of the school’s funding was targeted towards literacy, she said, and “therefore, we made a real commitment to improving numeracy”.
Staff analysed four years of results and changed the way numeracy was taught in the school, focusing on what works best for the students.
“Microteaching” targeted gaps in students' learning, while individual feedback was provided to both the children and their parents.
“It also relies a lot on kindergarten, year one and year two having a lot of great number skills and knowledge before they get to the primary years,” Ms James said.
And it’s worked.
“We have seen a gradual improvement in the past three years,” Ms James said.
“Every year since we started, we have had growth greater than expected, and greater than the state.”
Being flexible has been one of the keys, according to assistant principal Kirralee Naylor.
Every year since we started, we have had growth greater than expected.
“You need to really target it to the needs of your students and then keep adapting and changing,” she said.
And having all staff at the school on board has also been important, according to Ms James.
Perthville Public was nominated for the award by the NSW Department of Education’s director of educational leadership for Bathurst, Toni MacDonald.