Blueprint plots path to Indigenous advance
Prime Minister Tony Abbott says Indigenous students would do better if the country had higher expectations of them.
Mr Abbott was in Sydney launching a blueprint for best practice in teaching Indigenous school students, which was developed by the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation (AIEF).
The foundation used government money and private donations to fund scholarships for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, allowing them to attend some of the top-ranked schools in the country.
“The Commonwealth, I have to say, does spend a fair bit of time investing in failure,” Mr Abbott said at the launch event.
“What we are being invited to do today Andrew [Penfold, AIEF executive director] is invest in success.
“We are used to the deprivation narrative, increasingly we are comfortable and familiar with the cultural narrative - this is the success narrative, of which we need to see so much more.”
The Prime Minister says he is looking forward to Australia’s first Indigenous army chief, billionaire, or Booker prize-winner.
“In every field of endeavour, we must yearn for the day when success for indigenous people is so normal that it is no longer remarkable.
“That day won't come while indigenous youngsters continue to suffer the tyranny of low expectations,” Abbott said, borrowing a phrase from leading Indigenous advocate Noel Pearson.
One of the authors of the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation's new teaching guide, Renee Coffey, said they were based on interviews with more than 50 schools.
“They include strong leadership from the principal for the program, having good relationships with students, with families and community, a range of things like that which are quite simple but really important so that schools can have a successful Indigenous education program,” she told the ABC.
AIEF executive director Andrew Penfold said the 100-page report would allow the expertise and knowledge of schools that have been working in the field for decades to be spread.
“In the early days of these programs everyone... whether they're boarding schools or not... will make mistakes and learn lessons,” he said.
“And so the issue is how do we help new schools coming to it to understand what best practice looks like and understand the most successful strategies that are being used elsewhere so that they can replicate it and achieve better outcomes in a much shorter period of time.”
AIEF will distribute copies of its new AIEF Compendium to schools across Australia, and is encouraging educators to sign up online to find out more.