How do you turn a school around?
Airdate: 
Tuesday, May 8, 2018 - 20:30
Channel: 
SBS

Six years ago, when Junior arrived at Sir Joseph Banks High School as a year 7 student, the school didn’t have a great reputation in the community.

“[A] lot of bus drivers wouldn't stop for us because they know how rowdy our school could have been in the bus,” he tells Insight’s Jenny Brockie.

The same year Junior arrived, only 30 per cent of year 12 students on an ATAR pathway went to university. But for the last two years, that number has risen to 100 per cent. Kids say they are now being enrolled because Sir Joseph Banks is “the best school in the area.”

Ninety-two per cent of students at the school, located in Sydney’s south-west, come from a non-English speaking background and 61 per cent of students fall in the most disadvantaged quarter of all Australian students. 

Given the makeup of the school, principal Murray Kitteringham admits the school is well-funded under the current Gonski model. This has allowed the school to hire a number of teachers and support staff to target the individualised needs of students in areas of both wellbeing and education.

For many students at Sir Joseph Banks, school is like a second home and the principal, Murray Kitteringham, says the belief that “happy kids learn” is central to the school’s focus. Junior agrees.

“[The teachers] don't just care about your marks, they care about your wellbeing and ultimately that care about your wellbeing will help improve your marks and help get you to that end role,” he says.

Marouf is School Captain and has been dux of his year every year since year 8. He is aiming to study medicine next year and like many students at the school, he’ll be the first one in his family to go to university.

“I'd like to break that mould kind of for my sisters, let them know that it is possible if they want to go down that path,” he tells Insight.

“[We] might not have that head start that some people may have … but I guess that's what motivates me personally to just continue going when I don't want to or don't feel like it.”

In this episode of Insight, students and teachers of Sir Joseph Banks High share stories of strength and reveal what it took to turn their school around. Teaching Success, 8.30pm, SBS.

Credits

Presenter: Jenny Brockie 

Producer: Milena Dambelli 

Associate producer: Raveen Hunjan