Sydney Adventist schools achieve academic gains

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Principal Julia Heise with Mountain View students.

Schools in the Greater Sydney Conference were recently recognised as achieving substantially above-average gains in literacy and numeracy, according to the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). Gains are measured against the national average, against schools with similar students and against students with similar starting scores. Gains show the growth in students who have taken consecutive NAPLAN tests at the same school.

Julia Heise, principal at Mountain View Adventist College, credits above average growth in student learning to a focus on explicit instruction in literacy and numeracy, the dedication of the teachers and the unwavering commitment to the development of the whole child, practiced at the school.

This is the third consecutive year Mountain View has seen academic gains in this area.

“As educators, we need to prepare students for the 21st century,” said Ms Heise. “That requires a commitment to both the basics—reading, writing and mathematics as well as the four C’s—collaboration, communication, creativity and critical thinking.”

Dr Malcolm Coulson, principal of Hills Adventist College, agrees.

“Our role as educators is to ensure that each and every student develops to their full potential,” he said. “We are pleased to be recognised for achieving results that are beyond the expected. It is testament to the dedication of the teachers and staff of the school in providing a caring and nurturing environment where children can thrive.”

Student from the Year 5 Maker Club at Hills Adventist College.

Sydney Adventist School Auburn and Hurstville Adventist School were also recognised for above average gains in NAPLAN. Both schools are Prep to Year 6 and have a high percentage of children (as high as 97%) from non-English speaking backgrounds.

“Over the past four years we have specifically focused on numeracy,” said Neva Taylor, principal of Hurstville Adventist School. “We identify specific student needs and differentiate learning across the school. One of the biggest challenges was the language of mathematics and this has been a priority focus for the school.”

Danyel Efstratiou, principal of Sydney Adventist School Auburn, concurs.

“Explicit instruction and differentiated learning based on individual need is required, especially for those students who require additional assistance to meet minimum benchmarks,” she said.

Wahroonga Adventist School, which is currently expanding from Primary to a full Prep–Year 12 school, was similarly recognised for its academic achievements in NAPLAN by ACARA.

“It’s a privilege to be given the opportunity to shape the future of the children entrusted to us. A solid foundation in literacy and numeracy is core to the development of a lifelong learning philosophy,” said principal Michelle Streatfield.

“Above-average growth for our students requires the children to believe in themselves,” said Dr Jean Carter, education director for the Greater Sydney Conference. “As part of the Adventist Education philosophy we believe that each child is special. We provide an environment where Christian values are upheld, and young minds can grow and flourish.”