Eden’s primary and high schools were recognised among the best and brightest individuals and schools at the Illawarra and South East Region (ISER) awards in Canberra on Friday, August 3.
Both schools were recognised for their Excellence in Aboriginal Education and were among 48 individuals and eight schools to receive awards.
Other awards were presented for excellence in student achievement and wellbeing, teaching and contributions by staff.
Eden Public School principal John Davidson and his team of Corey Stewart and Jenny Edwards and Eden Marine High School principal Ian Moorehead travelled to Jerrabomberra Public School for the presentation.
Both schools demonstrated excellence in three criteria covering student learning and wellbeing, community engagement and creating a deeper understanding of Aboriginal culture across the whole school.
Mr Davidson said Eden’s Aboriginal students are punching well above their weight.
“In Year 3 Eden Aboriginal students are outperforming all NSW students in reading,” he said.
“Our Aboriginal attendance program has consistently resulted in attendance above the state average and we have a very low suspension rate.”
There are ongoing extra-curricular programs which involve parents and elders and the school routine includes cultural activities such as dance and welcome to country.
Mr Moorehead said “Some of the big highlights for us are building community relationships and creating tangible outcomes for the kids.”
“One of those is the digital welcome to country we made to use at celebrations and assemblies.
“(Eden elder Pastor) Ossie Cruise is talking through it, there are kids in it, photographs and music - it’s really emotive and terrific.”
NAPLAN results show growth in spelling and numeracy not just for Aboriginal students but for everyone.
He said attendance and retention rates continue to climb through school based apprenticeships and traineeships and an independent learning hub offered each Wednesday afternoon.
“We have students with Forests NSW and the National Parks and Wildlife Service and they are proving to be really successful,” he said.
“Community liaison officer Meaghan Holt has played a really important role in providing another level of support for the aboriginal kids in the school but also strengthened communication with parents where they are feeling more comfortable coming into the school.”
Regional director, Maria Gray-Spence, said the awards acknowledge and promote outstanding contributions and achievements in public education in the Illawarra and South East.
“I would like to congratulate all of the successful teachers, students, staff and schools and their school communities,” Ms Gray-Spence said.
“Each of them provides an outstanding example of excellence in achievement within their own schools and local community.”
She said she was delighted at the high standard of nominations for this year’s awards.
“It is a privilege to be able to present these individuals and schools with the recognition that they so richly deserve.”
Merimbula Public School (MPS) also received an award for excellence in teaching and learning.
MPS Teacher and University of Wollongong Bega campus graduate Peter Claxton received an award for excellent contributions beyond the classroom.
Kelly McCormack and Jennifer Smith received an award for excellence in educational support by a DEC employee.