Indigenous education

We view our strong connections with schools as a way of fostering innovative and collaborative research projects and as a channel for listening and responding to the needs of the local society. Our engagement with local schools aims to build on and extend UNSW’s work with schools serving indigenous communities through its Nura Gili outreach program. Further, we aim to offer professional development to our staff, offer specialised courses in indigenous education as well as imbed Indigenous perspective across our programs.

A guiding statement regarding our approach to preparing initial teacher educators for Indigenous education

The School of Education at UNSW is committed to responding to the call to improve teacher education to better meet the needs of Indigenous students in schooling, and to ensure that the teaching of Indigenous knowledges, histories, and heritage is critically informed, culturally sensitive and responsive, and actively engages in reflective practices. The School acknowledges that these two domains are identified in the National priority area, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education, and additionally they are required AITSL professional standards (1.4 and 2.4 respectively). The School is dedicated in its efforts to make a serious contribution to educational reforms that develop initial teachers’ skills and knowledges so they are sustainable, transferable, and critically informed by these social justice goals. This approach to teacher education is shaped by philosophical, political and ethical foundations that recognise schooling can and must play a vital role in better supporting Indigenous students in realising life pathways of their own choosing, and working towards Reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australia.

The School of Education has adopted a strategy of sharing the responsibilities of meeting these aspirations across the education program. In practice, this means that initial teacher educators at UNSW have an opportunity to engage in teaching and learning experiences that focus on Indigenous education policy, curriculum, and pedagogy at a number of junctures across their degree, and from a wide number of academic staff. This breadth and depth approach is founded upon the belief that (a) it is beneficial to have ideas and practices reinforced through repeated exposure to them, (b) it is advantageous to provide deeper and focused course specific engagement with these ideas and practices, and (c) in the interests of sustainability and emphasising the import of meaningfully engaging and working toward improvements in Indigenous education, that there is a critical mass of academics involved in the teaching and learning. In addition to this, the Schools’ academic staff continually engages in critical reflexivity in order to make improvements to the teaching program that reflects shifts in the policy, curricula and pedagogic terrain of Indigenous education.

Illustrating the breadth and depth approach adopted by the School, within mandatory courses the initial teacher educators engage with Indigenous education from the first year, through to their final. In their first year, students initially engage with this focus within the course Indigenous Perspectives in Education. This course provides a sequence of teaching and learning that specifically engage with the policy, professional, curricular and pedagogic dimensions of contemporary schooling. Conversations and learning activities that focus on Indigenous education continue in across the program in Social Perspectives in Education, Learning and Teaching, Special Education, Managing the Classroom, and Gifted and Talented. Supplementing these mandatory courses, electives that include a focus on Indigenous education include Culture, Identity and Education, and Teaching EAL/D Students. In support of these core courses, within the teaching methods courses, which focus on discipline specific syllabi, students are offered the opportunity to practically apply the skills and knowledges engaged with across the program.

With regards to addressing the focus of 1.4 in particular, in common across the education program are efforts to interrupt deficit views of Indigenous students and communities, and to move beyond compensatory strategies that aim to ‘fix’ Indigenous learners. Instead, an alternative and more critical approach that operates from a cultural ‘wealth’ perspective is taken up by education staff at UNSW. This ‘funds of knowledge’ approach to Indigenous education works from the understanding that learners arrive at school with a ‘wealth’ of skills, knowledges and experiences that can assist and help shape their engagement in schooling. It is a constructivist method for education that shifts responsibility onto the teacher to learn about their students, and from this, to develop and put into action teaching and learning experiences that are relevant and grounded in the lives and knowledge systems of the students. An important dimension and requirement of this approach, is for initial teacher educators to develop a critically informed and reflective understanding of the socio-historical foundations of the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australia, and how this continues to shape contemporary understandings and social practices.

With regards to responding to the focus 2.4, in common across the education program is an understanding that the teaching of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledges, histories, and heritages is primarily concerned with preparing initial teacher educators to work with the dominant non-Indigenous student population in schooling. While it is important that teachers are aware and respond sensitively to the presence of Indigenous students during these engagements in teaching and learning, it is important to note that this curriculum focus is not solely ‘for’ the benefit of Indigenous students. Instead, the approach in the School recognises that this policy framework is part of a broader social justice agenda linked with promoting understanding and respect as the basis of active and informed citizenship and Reconciliation processes. This is a decolonising method for education that requires teachers to be equipped with the skills, knowledge, and commitment to develop and deliver teaching and learning opportunities that provide a range of perspectives, while questioning and critiquing the social and political practices that (re)produce and (re)value these perspectives. Once again, an important dimension and requirement of this approach, is for initial teacher educators to develop a critically informed and reflective understanding of the socio-historical foundations of the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australia, and how this continues to shape contemporary understandings and social practices.

Indigenous Winter School 2016

Indigenous Winter School, School of Education, July 2016

Once again, the School of Education has been privileged to contribute to the annual Nura Gili Winter School program. This year we had nine high school students from across NSW and Qld visit for the three faculty days, they had the chance to experience a taste of university life at UNSW. As is tradition now, we also had nine initial teacher educator volunteers involved. The week would not be the same without the energy and generosity of spirit from all of those connected with the initiative, a big thanks to all of you.

As is also customary now, the stand out highlights included the Bundeena trip and the visit to Tigger’s Honeypot. The graduation on Friday was a lovely event and demonstrated once more that Nura Gili offers wonderful student support and has an eye for spotting talent as the speakers were of the highest caliber. Of particular note was education student Elly who was asked to be one of the key speakers that provided a reflective and inspiring overview of the Winter School program. She will be a leader of the future to keep an eye out for when she starts next year! It was also great to see education represented in the awards again this year, with Nth Queenslander Jessie winning the girls Spirit of Winter School accolade – a big congratulations to you both.

Dr Greg Vass

Nura Gili Winter School 2016  Nura Gili Winter School 2016 1  Nura Gili Winter School 2016 2  Nura Gili Winter School 2016 3

Report on Pre-Education Program for Indigenous Students 2016

Report on Pre-Education Program for Indigenous Students 2016

9 March 2016

Nura Gili, in conjunction with the Faculty of Arts and Social Science at UNSW, has developed special preparatory programs, open to Indigenous students who are looking to explore and apply for entry into undergraduate degree programs offered at UNSW. This is an alternative entry program for Indigenous students to various faculties including the School of Social Sciences and the School of Education. The intensive course provides a structured introduction to the university experience in a very supportive environment. It is designed to challenge the students and allow them to develop the skills necessary to successfully complete studies in education.

Dates/Times: 25th November to 17th December 2015 (9am- 5pm)

Number of indigenous students enrolled: 4

Program Convenor: Greg Vass

Program coordination and instruction: Jennifer Whittle and Stephanie Ingster

Full-time academics: Terry Cumming, Andrew Martin, Richard N, Sue O’Neill, Sue Ollerhead and Iva Strnadova

Assisted by 10 undergraduate mentors

Program structure:

The academic sessions focused on essay/reflective writing, annotated bibliography structure, APA referencing and oral presentations. The students also reviewed lesson planning, the use of ITCs and discussed aboriginal pedagogy and perspectives. They participated in fieldtrips to Sydney Distance Education High School, Plunkett Primary School and Matraville Sports High School. The students also attended some sessions with pre-social work students.

The pre-education students worked closely with 10 very dedicated and knowledgeable UNSW undergraduate mentors. The mentors advised students on their assignments as well as UNSW campus life, how to use the library ... This aspect of the program was particularly well received.

Assessment:

The Pre Program is alternate entry program to the School of Education and as such, the decision to make an offer to these students was not based on the applicant’s ATAR, but rather on their performance in the Pre Education Program as a whole. This took into account all aspects of the program, including participation, commitment and attitude, potential to succeed in the course, and overall performance in all assessment tasks.

The students demonstrated high levels of motivation and maturity. They did exceptionally well on the various assignments (annotated bibliography, presentation, reflective journal writing, summaries, interviews). All four students completed the program successfully and two have chosen to commence their undergraduate degree program in 2016.

The students spoke very positively about their experience in the Pre Education program. Here are some comments from their journals and exit interviews:

  • The program was highly enjoyable. Everyone we worked with was lovely, kind and welcoming to us all.
  • The undergrads (mentors) were really helpful. It was great knowing the perspectives of students that are partaking in the course we are hoping to get into.
  • The support from undergrads was amazing. They taught us life skills needed to adapt to the university environment as well as core knowledge.
  • I really enjoyed our school visits as they gave me a real insight into what is going to come when we are on prac.
  • I was really impressed with the Indigenous programs supporting students at Matraville HS. These programs are fundamental to Indigenous students achieving their potential.
  • The lectures given by the academics are informative and kept me constantly thinking about my degree and teaching.
  • The variety within the course helped make it enjoyable. I succeeded beyond my expectations.
  • The course helped me develop a more critical understanding of the role of a teacher.
  • I grasped the importance of catering for the needs of individual students.

Indigenous Winter School July 2015

Indigenous Winter School, School of Education update, July 2015

As the weather starts getting colder, attention turns to Nura Gili’s annual Winter School program. This is an event that the School of Education is proud to be involved with, and once again we were looking forward to having the opportunity of working with ten high school students from NSW, Qld, and Tassie, as they learn about the life of a university student, studying Education at UNSW, and why becoming a teacher is an exciting and rewarding path.

The three faculty days that the students spent with us included a wide range of activities that invited the students to consider what is involved with becoming an inspiring teacher; how to motivate, engage and work with students in the classroom; the value and importance of collaborative learning; and how to make use of innovative technologies such as stop motion films in the classroom. On the opening day we also had a visit from Dr Linden Wilkinson, who shared her experiences of working in, and teaching in, the performing arts. As with last year, an unforgettable highlight of the week for all involved was the visit to Bundeena in the Royal National Park. The students participated in the Jibbon guided tour that included learning about local Aboriginal stories, peoples and cultural sites. Once again the visit to Tigger’s Honeypot Pre-school was also was also very popular with the students, with many disappointed faces when it was time to leave! Following this, we had a visit from a representative of the Department of Education, who provided the students with information about a range of scholarship opportunities that are available to university students and early career teachers.

Current UNSW education students were again invited to volunteer and be involved with the program. It is a wonderful - and for some eye-opening - opportunity to experience first hand what it is like to get to know and work with a group of high school students. These future teachers did a great job planning and then facilitating a number of the workshops across the program. They quickly established a good rapport with the students, which meant a supportive. friendly, and fun experience was had by all. One of the participants describes well the spirit of the program,

“This just reaffirmed that I am studying the right thing. Teaching is hard but soooo rewarding. It’s exciting to think my future career might involve lots of kids like the ones from the Winter School.”

A big thank-you to Abarna, Prema, Gerthika, Ly, Lila, Courtney, Christine, Lara, Liz, Taylor and Elsa for your contribution. Thanks also to Brendan Webb, Katherine Thompson and the team at the School of Education for your support - Terry Cumming, you always offer an entertaining, motivating and memorable workshop. Special thanks also to Tamara and Jay, the Nura Gili appointed supervisors of the group for the week, who always contributed enthusiastically. It was particularly rewarding to have Jay involved. He participated as a high school student last year, and now he is enrolled and studying education. Jay’s enthusiasm and experiences added a lot to the week.

It is a privilege to once again be involved in the annual Winter School, and it is a pleasure to have the opportunity of working with a motivated, committed, connected and positive group of students. I am confident that we can look forward to seeing some of these aspiring teachers going on to work in schools across Australia, and while we hope that their future studies may bring some of them here to the School of Education at UNSW, we wish all of them luck as they complete their education and pursue their dreams, wherever they may lead. Some of the feedback gives a good indication of how the students appreciate the opportunity to participate in the program:

“To be a good teacher definitely is to be passionate about teaching, and to pursue this pathway, all the mentors and special guests stories have definitely opened my views on uni and teaching.”

“We got to reflect and actually think about the qualities of a teacher and the type of leaner I want to be and should aspire to be.”

“Teaching isn’t just about what you go and teach your class, its how you treat them, how much passion and inspiration you give them too.”

“A teacher can be anyone, not just at school. Teachers, of all shapes and sizes, have a very important role in peoples lives.”

While it is always a busy few days, as you can see in the photo’s from Bundeena, this is an amazing program and I am already looking forward to next years Winter School!

Dr Greg Vass

Indigenous Program 1     Indigenous Program 3     Indigineous winter program 2015 2

MTeach Winter Indigenous Education Program July 2015

MTeach Winter Indigenous Education Program 2015

The School of Education ran its first Master of Teaching (MTeach) Indigenous Education Program at Matraville High School along with the UNSW Matraville Learning Program from the 20-23 July 2015. The program has been celebrated by the local Bidjigal people of the Eora nation as a significant step forward for the education of their children and the children of other Indigenous peoples of Australia. The program involved comprehensive consultation with the Bidjigal community and its elders, as well as local schools and other stakeholders to develop its very detailed program. This included a Welcome to Country by the honourable Bidjigal elder Aunty Barbara Simms - Keely and the continuous tutoring and support from the honourable Bidjigal elder Uncle Max Harrison and members of the local Aboriginal Educational Consultative Committee. Their president, Pauline Beller and Vice President, Calita Murray in fact tirelessly reviewed, supported and developed content for almost all the program itself along with our UNSW lecturers and tutors.

Some of the most popular events included sessions on Aboriginal kinship related directly to the local Bidjigal kinship ties and walks On Country at the Kamay National Park with Dean Kelly and Tim Ella. Lectures presented by Dr Greg Vass and Dr Neville Ellis were highly valued by the students for their significance and the dimensions they provided in this important area in Australian Education. A speech by Julie Welsh from the Aboriginal Child, Family & Community Care State Secretariat (AbSec), delivered at the start of the program, challenged the students to consider the considerable social importance of the event and by the end, the students themselves were reporting that the event was invaluable to their work as teachers. Adrian Robinson from the Department of Education and Communities in particular unpacked English language learning and the range of Aboriginal languages and dialects that teachers would need to include in their learning and teaching which pressed the importance of continued training in this area by all educators due to its complexities.

The School of Education and its staff are thrilled that the event was valuable and successful and would like to extend our thanks to all involved, especially Nerida Walker (Principal - Matraville High School) for opening up her campus to us. Thank you also to the students from Soldiers’ Settlement Public school for performing both traditional and contemporary dances for us and for Katherine Thompson for managing the UNSW Matraville Learning Program in such an open and supportive manner such that the program ran seamlessly, allowing everyone to focus on the content.

See you next year, same time, same place but with a further developed and even more engaging program, thanks to the valuable feedback that we have from our enthusiastic and highly professional students. Hence thank you to all the students who made the four days available in their lives and participated with commitment and a strong sense of inquiry.

Costa Loucopoulos

Indigenous Education Program 2015

MTeach Winter Indigenous Program 2015   MTeach Winter Indigenous Program 2015 a  MTeach Winter Indigenous Program 2015 b

Indigenous Winter School 2014

Indigenous Winter School, School of Education update, July 2014

The annual UNSW Winter School for Indigenous students organised by The Nura Gili Indigenous Programs Centre is an important event that the School of Education is proud to be involved with. We were excited to have the opportunity of working with ten high school students from New South Wales and Queensland as they learnt about life at University and what it would be like to study Education and become a teacher.

The students had the opportunity to participate in a variety of teaching and learning experiences about becoming an inspiring teacher; the different sorts of skills and thinking learners bring to the classroom; motivation and learning; and using technologies such as movie maker in the classroom. A visit from experienced teacher and artist Robyn Gordon was also an opportunity for learning and teaching in the creative arts, with the students making some unforgettable wearable art. A highlight of the week for all involved was the visit to the Royal National Park. The Jibbon tour was a guided walk that included learning about Aboriginal heritage in and around Sydney. The visit to Tigger’s Honeypot Pre-school was also an interesting and enjoyable experience that was popular for many.

This year we once again invited UNSW education students to volunteer and be involved with the program. These teachers of the future did an excellent job facilitating a number of the workshops, but importantly they also quickly established supportive and friendly relationships with the high school students. One of the mentors, Alena, describes this well: “Mentors shared experiences of university attendance and the participants shared their dreams and thoughts. They were articulate, insightful, and both brave and generous with their ideas. It was a truly wonderful thing to see the participants gain in confidence and watch their ideas grow over the duration of the education faculty workshops.”

A big thank-you to Alena, Farah, Geetu, Jessica, Claire, Lisa, Francesca, Lindsay and Alicia for your contribution. Special thanks also to Aiyana and Corey, who were the Nura Gili appointed supervisors of the group for the week and always contributed enthusiastically.

It was a pleasure and privilege to work with a motivated, engaged and happy group of young people during the Winter School. Hopefully some of these aspiring teachers will maintain this enthusiasm and commitment to teaching, and in the next five years or so we will see some of them in schools across Australia. A visit from representatives from the Department of Education and Communities spoke with the students about the excellent scholarship opportunities available for university students and early career teachers, and it would be great to see some take up these opportunities. A special thanks also to Catherine Rowe and the admin team at the School of Education for your support, and a big thanks to Terry Cumming who gave an entertaining and motivating workshop that inspired all present.

This year, some of the comments from the Indigenous students included:

“I’ve learned even more about how different people learn. I feel this is really important as a teacher and I valued it as the overall most inspiring learning experience”

“I learnt that teaching isn’t just about sharing your knowledge with a group of students, but shaping individuals understanding and acceptance of the bigger picture”

“I thought that the way teachers love to do what they do and why they’re doing it was exciting”

“Teaching is so much more than telling someone how to do something, but is inspiring a child and being creative”

“The stand out experience was having the mentors with us through the week which was most helpful in allowing us to hear first hand experience that may be a lot like our future in the coming years”

Dr Greg Vass

Indigenous Preparation Program 2014

Indigenous Preparation Program 2014

Nura Gili, in conjunction with the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at UNSW, has developed a preparatory program, open to Indigenous students who are looking to explore and apply for entry into undergraduate degree programs offered at UNSW, in the areas of Education. This is an alternative entry program for Indigenous students. The intensive course provides a structured introduction to the university experience in a very supportive environment. It is designed to challenge the students and allow them to develop the skills necessary to successfully complete studies in Education.

The successful pre-Education program in 2014 included:

  • an introduction to teaching
  • academic literacy and classroom interaction
  • how students learn
  • the social context of schooling
  • meeting an academic
  • Indigenous perspectives in education

2014 Program Report

Dates/Times: 25th November-17th December (9am - 5pm)

Number of students: Six
Number of students now enrolled in UNSW Education degrees: Five
Program Convenor:
Greg Vass
Program instructors:
Stephanie Ingster, Gwyn Jones (Learning Centre Advisor), Katherine Thompson and Jennifer Whittle
Assisted by full-time academics:
Terry Cumming, Greg Leaney, Andrew Martin, Richard Niesche, Sue Ollerhead, Sue O’Neill, and Iva Strnadova,
Post-graduate mentors:
10 undergraduate mentors, students from Social Perspectives in Education EDST1104

Program structure: The morning sessions focused on developing academic skills such as report/essay writing, APA referencing and oral presentations. The students also reviewed lesson planning, the use of ITCs and discussed aboriginal pedagogy and perspectives. They were given a tour of the library and visited primary/secondary schools with large numbers of indigenous students.

The students worked closely with UNSW undergraduate graduate mentors for three hours each afternoon. The mentors advised them on their assignments as well as UNSW campus life, how to use the library ... This aspect of the program was particularly well received.

Assessment:
 The Pre-Program is an alternate entry to the School of Education and as such, the decision to make an offer to these students was not based on the applicant’s ATAR, but rather on their performance in the Pre-Education Program as a whole. This took into account all aspects of the program, including participation, commitment and attitude, potential to succeed in the course, and overall performance in all assessment tasks.

Further information about the program
Program Duration The Pre‐Program are held in Sydney at UNSW in November/December

Venue and Accommodation: The programs are held on the Kensington campus of UNSW and accommodation is provided for, on campus, in student college facilities.
Who Should apply
All Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are seeking to qualify for entry into Education at UNSW.
What does it lead to
Successful completion of a Pre-Program may lead to entry into an undergraduate program at UNSW or a pathways (enabling) program.
Cost
The programs are free of charge.
How to Apply
Contact Nura Gili for further program details Applicants must also confirm their Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent as part of the application process. Applicants must also lodge an application with the Universities Admissions Centre (UAC) for the UNSW undergraduate degree program that the wish to study.

Indigenous Winter School 2013

2013 Program Report

Once again the School of Education was proud to be involved in the UNSW Winter School for Indigenous students organized by Nura Gili.

This year, fourteen high school students from New South Wales, Queensland and the Northern Territory ventured to a very chilly Sydney to spend one week learning about life at University and, in the case of these fourteen students, what it would be like to study Education and become a teacher.

As part of their School of Education experience, the students discussed what good teachers do in a classroom, how students learn, how to plan an effective lesson and what scholarship provisions are available from the NSW Department of Education.

The students were inspired by the teaching stories of Brooke Collins, an Indigenous Alumni of the School of Education, currently teaching English and History in a Sydney school. Brooke provided first hand information on what it is like to study Education at University and the sources of support for Indigenous students on the NSW campus.

On a very cold and windy Thursday the group headed off to Taronga Zoo and participated in a lesson with the Indigenous teacher and later enjoyed the Wild Bird Show, co-presented by the same Indigenous teacher who gave an Aboriginal perspective to the free flight demonstration.

In the afternoon, the group took the ferry to Circular Quay and met up with Clarence Slockey in the Botanic Gardens who led a tour of the gardens, pointing out trees and shrubs significant to Aboriginal people and entertaining with his playing of the Didgeridoo,and with his wonderful stories, particularly his story about meeting President Bush.

Many staff in the School of Education volunteered to work with the Winter School students this year, three of them even coming back from leave to spend time with them. Many thanks especially to Dr Putai Jin, Dr Terry Cumming, Barbara Pillans, Robyn Lonergan, Brooke Collins and Janine French from the NSW Department of Education and Training for inspiring the students to become teachers.

The staff in the School of Education had a wonderful time working with these great young people. Their motivation and focus during the Winter School is a clear indication of what fantastic teachers they will be.

Hopefully these aspiring teachers will maintain this enthusiasm and commitment to teaching, and in the next five years or so we will see more Indigenous teachers in schools across Australia.

Indigenous Preparation Program 2013

2013 Program Report

Dates/Times: 9 December to 18 December 2013 (9am - 5pm)

Number of students: Three
Number of students now enrolled in UNSW Education degres: Three (100% success rate!)
Program Convenor:
Jennifer Whittle
Program instructors:
Stephanie Ingster, Gwyn Jones (Learning Centre Advisor) and Jennifer Whittle
Assisted by full-time academics:
Terry Cumming, Sue O’Neill and Iva Strnadova
Post-graduate mentors:
Four post-graduate students from Community Engagement EDST5116

Program structure:
The morning sessions focused on developing academic skills such as report/essay writing, APA referencing and oral presentations. The students also reviewed lesson planning, the use of ITCs and discussed aboriginal pedagogy and perspectives. They visited primary/secondary schools with large numbers of indigenous students.

The students were paired with a UNSW postgraduate mentor who worked with them for three hours each afternoon. The mentors advised them on their assignments as well as UNSW campus life, how to use the library ... This aspect of the program was particularly well received.

Assessment:
The Pre-Program is an alternate entry to the School of Education and as such, the decision to make an offer to these students was not based on the applicant’s ATAR, but rather on their performance in the Pre-Education Program as a whole. This took into account all aspects of the program, including participation, commitment and attitude, potential to succeed in the course, and overall performance in all assessment tasks.

Videos Dr Greg Vass, Educational Policy & Leadership, School of Education, UNSW Australia   Dr Greg Vass, Educational Policy & Leadership, School of Education, UNSW Australia

Dr Greg Vass discusses his research on culturally responsive schooling practices and ideas, in particular how teachers’ pedagogy choices in the classroom can interrupt prejudice and privilege patterns.

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