• Aurukun community members say they've seen negative changes at the local school since the Queensland Government's stepped up its involvement in July. (Supplied)Source: Supplied
The Cape York leader says the Education Department has "completely dismantled" the school's teaching method, undoing six years of progress.
By
Ella Archibald-Binge

Source:
NITV News
3 Nov 2016 - 5:09 PM  UPDATED 3 Nov 2016 - 5:09 PM

The Queensland Government took greater control of the Aurukun primary school in July, in response to a series of recommendations from a month-long review, undertaken after teachers were twice evacuated over safety concerns.

In the six years prior, the Cape York Aboriginal Australian Academy-run school had been one of three in north Queensland trialling an educational reform program using a controversial teaching method adopted from the United States, called Direct Instruction

At a teaching forum in Brisbane Mr Pearson said that teaching model had been all but abandoned since the government intervened in July.

"The end result is that our six years of work has been largely, completely dismantled." 

"If we were to recommence Direct Instruction we'd basically be starting again, we'd have to acclimatise a whole new teacher force, continuity in teaching is broken, there's no commitment to Direct Instruction in the leadership of the school...

"To stay the course requires a continuity of governance at the school... that's now been disrupted.

"The state Education Department has taken over the school, and we're basically back to pre-2010 Aurukun."

Predominantly catering for children with learning difficulties, the Direct Instruction method sees teachers use closely-scripted lesson plans, breaking each task down to its simplest component and not moving on until all students understand the material. 

The model has drawn criticism from some, including educator Dr Chris Sarra who labelled it part of the problem in Aurukun.

Others, including a former Aurukun principal, say it's fostered a dramatic improvement among students.

Phyllis Yunkaporta, a teacher aide at the Aurukun school, was instrumental in setting up the teaching program in 2010, and is adamant that it works.

Speaking alongside Mr Pearson on Wednesday night, Ms Yunkaporta broke down describing the changes she's seen in the school in recent months.

"With Direct Instruction, I've noticed the children in the classrooms were engaged, concentrated with what they were taught... now I don't see any of that happening in classrooms," Ms Yunkaporta told NITV.

"I guess it simply means that we have now created more disengaged youth for the near future, if they're not going to be able to read and write

"I want the Queensland Government to think hard about what they did, because I feel they have deprived my children of an education that could well have taken them into the next level, well into the future, to holding down a profession in life."

Mr Pearson said the future of Aurukun State School remained "a great uncertainty". 

NITV has sought comment from the State Government.  

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