WORKING TOGETHER: Teacher aide Cassie Oppermann with students Havana Parter, Abby Pointon, Julie Best, Daley Thompson and Ashton Kyle.
WORKING TOGETHER: Teacher aide Cassie Oppermann with students Havana Parter, Abby Pointon, Julie Best, Daley Thompson and Ashton Kyle. Contributed

Language program wins coveted award

EIDSVOLD State School is continuing to earn plaudits for its Wakka Wakka language reclamation program after being awarded the Queensland Teachers' Union Showcase Award for Excellence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education for Central Queensland Region.

Principal Preston Parter said the program, started in 2016, is based on respecting the expertise of their community, finding common ground, and creating sustainable partnerships outside of the school.

"The language reclamation program was developed as a concept around providing all students with a sense of belonging and connection to themselves, others and their community,” Mr Parter said.

"The underlying ethos of the program is that the school, staff and community are able to work together toward the common goal of creating an inclusive, aspirational culture for their students.

"A specific goal of the program has also been to build staff capabilities to understand the complexities of Eidsvold's unique community and to shape high expectation relationships with all students and community members.”

Mr Parter said the program was initially hampered by an absence of fluent Wakka Wakka speakers in Eidsvold.

"It all began with small steps and only a limited bank of words being used,” he said.

The school originally entered the Marrin Gamu languages competition at the end of 2016, highlighting Wakka Wakka body parts.

The program has continued to grow rapidly and the school has now set up a language's reference group, hired a linguist to quality assure and maintain integrity within the program and employed two Wakka Wakka teacher aides.

"Progress has now been extended to short phrases and students are beginning to converse between each other in language,” Mr Parter said.

One of the aides, Cassie Oppermann, said the program has forged a stronger connection between the school and the town.

"I am very proud that the school has been able to re-engage their community members and elders group and offer opportunities for them to provide input both the program and the curriculum,” Ms Oppermann said.

Education Minister Grace Grace said the awards, now in their 20th year, "are widely regarded as the most prestigious educational awards in Queensland”.

State finalists for the awards are announced on July 29.

Winners are announced at the Showcase Awards Gala Dinner in Brisbane on October 25.


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