Community News

Education Field Day

October 2015
Bourke Public School student performersKK

Coonamble High School hosted the inaugural Connected Communities Education Field day to celebrate the journey and the successes of the 15 Connected Communities schools.

All of the participating schools facilitated sessions on successful projects and programs from their schools including sessions on Healing and Attendance, Learning on Country, an Elder in Residence program, cultural mentoring and health partnerships. 

The event was attended by community members, parents, teachers and senior departmental officers from across NSW with some wonderful student performances by Walgett Community College and Bourke Public School (pictured).

The day was considered a great success in profiling some of the great work in the Connected Communities schools while providing inspiration on projects and programs to other schools.

Taree Public School 150th anniversary

October 2015
Logo of Taree Public school


The Taree Public School will be having a celebration of their 150th year anniversary on Friday 6th November 2015.
This is a significant achievement and to celebrate the school is holding an open day to display the history of the school and the changes that have occurred.
The open day will commence at 10am on Friday 6th November. There will be a special assembly, open classrooms and viewing of historical displays. All parents, past students and staff and community members are invited to attend the celebrations.
Historical displays will also be open for view from 10am - 2pm on Saturday 7th November.

Instructional leadership

September 2015
Students and teachers from Hillvue Public School feature in this film about the instructional leadership program at the school. The program provides additional support to teachers and is improving student outcomes in literacy and numeracy. 
You tube video:

The gift of reading

August 2015

Students presented with books at assembly

Students from Taree Public School have received free books as part of the 'Books in Homes' program encouraging school communities to foster the importance of reading and improve literacy in schools. 

On 19 June students were each presented with three books at a special book giving assembly. They were joined by special guests from The Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation, sponsors of the program, and author and illustrator Stephen Michael King.

Mr King shared his memories of reading as a child and read his new book, My Dad is a Giraffe, to the assembly. The book had not yet been published and the students from Taree Public School were the first in the world to hear and see the story. 

The author then turned to his illustration skills and drew a picture from his new book. Students were mesmerised as they watched Mr King draw two circles and turn them into a giraffe. Students and teachers watched in awe as the marks he put on the page transformed into an illustration of the characters from his book. The finished piece is set to be framed and hung on display at the school. 

The students were very excited to attend the assembly and receive the books to take home and enjoy. 

A second book giving assembly will be held at the school next term. 

Space to learn 

June  2015

Hillvue Public School

Hillvue Public is reinventing the school by converting classrooms into open plan and shared learning spaces as a new vision takes shape. 

Three rooms were chosen to model a flexible learning environment for Early Stage One students. Bi-fold doors have been opened, walls removed, windows replaced with doors to create one open plan learning space for the three classrooms. The space now includes a wet area, a technology area and a reading area.
An additional teacher has been employed to work with the three classroom teachers. Three Learning Support Officers have also been employed to support the morning literacy session. 
The Executive Principal, Chris Shaw, said students did not always react well to casual teachers when their teacher was absent due to sickness, leave or professional learning. The new staff arrangement provides consistency for the students, because at least one of their teachers will always be in the room. 
"This vision is strongly supported by the Early Action for Success initiative. The aim is to further the development of each student by providing a happy, safe and engaging environment where everyone is encouraged to be the best person they can be," he said. 
Early Stage One teachers have embraced this new concept and it will be expanded to Stage 2 in 2016.

Footy gala day

April  2015

Walgett Primary

On Wednesday the 1st of April Walgett Primary school took 16 boys and girls from years 2-6 to play in the annual NRL Goodooga gala day. 

The year 3/4 team played 5 games throughout the day winning 4 and losing the semi-final in a close battle.
Aaron Hinch was the star of the team scoring over 10 tries for the day showing exceptional speed and footwork. Jye Boney and Quinton Kennedy were also standout performers.
The year 5/6 team played well all day but unfortunately just missed out on the semi-finals. This was a great achievement as many of the students had never played rugby league before. 
The star of this team was the hard running prop Clive Murray and the only girl on the team Charlie Andrews who proved difficult to stop.
The students love rugby league and cannot wait for the next gala day.

Bullying, No Way

March  2015

Bullying, No Way - Bourke High School


Bourke High School students and staff came together on March 20 for a day of action to say "Bullying, No Way". 

Students had been working on the anti-bullying theme for a number of weeks and used their creativity and self-expression to spread the word.

The students developed their own messages, displayed them across the school, and made delicious cupcakes to celebrate the day.

Essential Energy donated its time and equipment to take an aerial photo of the students' message of unity.

Tin Town Trackers return

Dec 2014

You tube video:

After the success of the Coonamble High School video clip ‘Tin Town Trackers – Bring it Back', Coonamble High students have again worked with Desert Pea Media to deliver an extraordinary music video about health messages for the community. 

Part of the Western Medicare Local Family Wellbeing project, the students worked with staff from Desert Pea Media to develop their message and lyrics to produce the new video clip called Tin Town Trackers – ‘Reach Out'. 

Once the lyrics were written the students spent a week out and about in Coonamble filming the clip. 

This song has a strong mental health focus, showing how this can affect someone and what you can do to help. The video was launched at the Coonamble Community Day in conjunction with the Coonamble Wellbeing Expo

Debating success 

December 2014

The Stage 4 Coonamble High School debating team competed recently in the finals of the Premier's Debating Challenge at the University of Sydney. 
The team was first in the western zone of the challenge and in the top 10 out of 413 teams that entered the statewide competition this year.
Coonamble High's winning streak started with successful debates against Coolah Central School, Dunedoo Central School and Coonabarabran High School in the early rounds of the competition before defeating Nyngan High School in the semi-finals and then proceeding on in the Regional Grand Final with a victory against Henry Lawson High School. 
Coonamble is on the central western plains of NSW and is a two-hour drive from Dubbo and a six-hour drive from Sydney, which makes it difficult for the team to get to their competitions. As a result they had to compete via teleconference for a number of the earlier rounds and rarely had an audience.

This meant that the competition at the University of Sydney in front of hundreds of people was brave step for the young debaters.
The team had a number of close rounds and was pleased to get the chance to attend a workshop delivered by the Arts Unit adjudicators, which will increase their confidence and give them valuable new skills for next year's competition.
Coonamble High

Coonamble High School Stage 4 Debate Team (From left to right) Emily Underwood, Laura Williams, Mitchell Browne, and Sam Carey.

Community contribution 

September 2014

Bourke High School has partnered with Bourke TAFE college to offer students a program that provides hands-on experience in carpentry, concreting, painting and learning how to run a small business. 

The course is run through the school's Yarr Pai Paka-ma program and is designed to motivate disengaged students back into the classroom. Part of this experience has involved learning about the design and construction of gravestones and coffins
 "Yarr Pai, which loosely means ‘our learning', was created for disengaged students; the ones who didn't feel particularly engaged or motivated to participate in the usual three Rs of learning," said David Pickard, a teacher at Bourke High School and the program coordinator. 
"When I started teaching through this program I realised I had to make it interesting for them, to give them an incentive to learn. They all said ‘We want to get jobs', so when this opportunity came along through the local TAFE I jumped at it."
The program was an immediate hit and has resulted in improved school attendance.  Mr Pickard believes this is because the program motivates the students, raises their self-esteem and allows them to contribute to their community. They also become role models to other disengaged students. 
"The first intake of students saw five of the boys complete and obtain a Certificate I qualification and they immediately signed up for Certificate II as soon as it was offered. The boys who didn't originally sign up did so the next time it was offered as they didn't want to be left behind by the other students," he said.
"The students have become little entrepreneurs, working out the costs of materials and how a business should be run. They are also learning skills they can use in the community and, by doing so, they raise their self-esteem . . . .  they see they are providing a service to their community and supplying them with something they otherwise would not be able to afford."
The students' work has been so well received by the wider Bourke community that it has led to additional offers of work, further enhancing the student' s experience and self-esteem.
"They [the students] have been given contracts for signage at the cemetery, using their skills to cut timber and planing it to make long-term weatherproof signage for the cemetery. We have also made general repairs within Bourke TAFE and at the school," Mr Pickard said.
"As a result, the students gain more confidence and they realise their work is as good as any other professional could do."

In their own words

September 2014

Students from Coonamble High School have participated in a community lyrical workshop to develop a message about health issues affecting their community.

Part of the Western Medicare Local Family Wellbeing project, the 14 students worked with staff from Desert Pea Media to develop their message and lyrics and produce a video clip called Tin Town Trackers – ‘Bringin it Back'.

Link to Youtube video:

The students spent a week filming in different locations around Coonamble, while learning about their history and culture from family and community members.

Kristie Pearson, the school's Senior Leader Community Engagement, said one of the best parts of the experience was seeing how the students worked together on the project, which she believes is at the core of the Connected Communities' strategy.

"Seeing the lyrical component the students created themselves, that included local Gamilaroi/Weilwan words along with the embedding of respect for ‘ancestors and ourselves' was really exciting," she said.

"Productions such as this can instil that sense of pride in self and heritage and encourage the continued preservation and revitalisation of our culture."

Since the launch students and staff have regularly played the song to their community, receiving a very positive response.

The students were thrilled with their achievement and are looking forward to the next production.

Wilcannia art on show in Sydney 

August 2014

Wilcannia Central School recently joined with City of Sydney Council and Murdi Paaki Regional Enterprise Corporation to bring the work of eight Wilcannia artists to the Pine Street Gallery in Sydney. Read more.

A place for listening, learning, knowing

August 2014

Taree High School has officially opened its new Ab

Taree High School has officially opened its new Aboriginal Resource Room, Ngarralbaa, where students, families and the community can meet, learn about local Aboriginal culture and language and receive educational support. Read more.

The Bogga Boys ft. Lohara Nicholas - 'We Will Be' 

May 2014

Check out this video made by the young people of Boggabilla as part of a mentoring project with Desert Pea media. The project was funded by the Aboriginal Education Consultative Group for the Connected Communities initiative.

School opens shop front

May 2014

Coonamble Public School has opened an information and community engagement office on the main street in Coonamble to further integrate the school into the town. Read more.

The rewards of reading

May 2014

Walgett Community College Primary

Walgett Community College Primary is the latest school in NSW to join the Books at Home program that encourages school communities to value reading.
The 140 primary students received their book packs last month and are already devouring their new books.
The Books at Home scheme was co-founded in New Zealand in 1995 by Maori author Alan Duff, who wrote Once Were Warriors, and now provides free or low-cost books to more than 100,000 students.
At Walgett Community College and 50 other participating schools in NSW, Books at Home aims to foster the importance of reading, improve literacy and encourage students and their families to view reading as an everyday activity.
Books at Home provides nine books a year to each child, chosen from age-appropriate preview packs, in its aim to give equal access to books of choice.
Walgett Community College Instructional Leader Janet Westcott, who is the Primary School's Books at Home co-ordinator, said the new initiative had been greeted enthusiastically.
"Books at Home is really empowering our children," Mrs Westcott said. "They love their new books and are already chatting about them with their friends and families."
At a school assembly, where the books were handed out, the children met their Books at Home mentor, a much-loved local woman, Mrs Robyn Pearson.
"In a moving speech, she told them why reading was so important and how her own difficulties with reading had limited her life," Mrs Westcott said.
"The students left the assembly with a very real understanding of what a mentor was and that they had someone who truly believed in them."


Walgett Community College Primary


A lesson in language

May 2014

Wilcannia Central School students

Wilcannia Central School hosted the launch of the Paakantji/Barkindjii Language and Culture Nest and showcased the students' language learning for the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Victor Dominello. Read more.

A right Royal honour 

April 2014

Student leaders at the reception.

Student leaders at the reception, from left, Kiara Smith (Moree East PS), Mickayla McEwen (Coonamble HS), Shaylyn Whyman (Wilcannia Central School), Adrian Scott (Walgett Community College) and Mitchell Harvey (Bourke PS).


Five students represented Connected Communities' schools at a NSW Government reception for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at Sydney's Opera House on 16 April.

The students were part of a contingent of 30 student leaders selected to represent NSW public schools at the reception for 400 people.

One of the students, Mitchell Harvey, school captain of Bourke Public School, was excited to meet Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge. 

"He talked about Bourke and asked me if it was hot," Mitchell said. "He was very friendly."

Mitchell, 11, who travelled to Sydney with his father, said he was proud to represent his school and would tell students and staff about his experiences at an assembly after the holidays.  

Mitchell and student leaders from Moree East Public School, Coonamble High School, Wilcannia Central School and Walgett Community College enjoyed watching the NSW Public School Aboriginal Dance Company perform before the Duke and Duchess. 

Six members of the dance company performed White, an adaptation of Bangarra Dance Theatre's Ochres repertoire that explores the mystical significance of ochre in Aboriginal culture. 

The NSW Public School Dance Company is a collaboration between the Department of Education and Communities and Bangarra Dance Theatre. 

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their baby son, George, are visiting Australia for 10 days. 

Lights, camera . . . dance

April 2014
The Move It Mob Style crew visited Wilcannia


The Move It Mob Style crew visited Wilcannia recently to film footage as part of the TV show's "virtual adventures" to communities to showcase Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander dance and music.   Read more .

Breakfast is on at connected communities schools

March 2014

Minister for Education Adrian Piccoli today announced a $100,000 investment in breakfast programs at the 15 Connected Communities schools across the State. Read more.

Students share cultural stories

March 2014

An exchange program between a school in the state's far west and one in Sydney's northern suburbs is teaching students that their childhood experiences are very similar, despite their geographical separation. Read more.

Personalised learning plans

March 2014

There's nothing like an informal barbecue to bring a school community together and embed an educational message at the same time. That's what the new Executive Principal of Taree Public School did to quickly establish her local knowledge bank. Read more.

"Big school" for four-year-olds

March 2014


Every week 50 bright-eyed children turn up for "lessons" at Bourke Public School.

The children are four-year-olds taking part in a unique school transition program, where they go to "big school" two days a week and to a local preschool for another two days. Read more.

Hat's on for a sun safe message

March 2014

Students at Hillvue Public School in Tamworth are being taught about the dangers of sun exposure through a Sun Safe campaign implemented by Executive Principal Mr Chris Shaw. 

"We have purchased hats for every child and they are kept at school to ensure every student has a hat to wear outside in the playground," Mr Shaw said. Read more.

Healthy start to learning

March 2014


A central feature of the Connected Communities' strategy is for schools to form effective partnerships with government and non-government agencies to benefit the learning needs of students. 

Bourke Public School has developed collaborative and sustainable partnerships with Bourke Community Health, Bourke Medicare Local and the Bourke Aboriginal Medical Service. Read more.

School attendance program

February 2014

Five School Attendance Officers have been employed and one mentor to work at Boggabilla Central School with students and their families to improve attendance rates.

The officers and mentor started at the beginning of the school year and will be employed for two years. Read more.

Sport is awesome

February 2014

Students at Taree High School, in partnership with Forster Films, are producing short films to explore issues relating to health and well-being.

The films provide the students with an exciting medium to explore their knowledge and feelings on a particular subject and learn new skills in digital film making. Read more.

A smooth start to school

February 2014

Muriel Kelly faced a challenge when she took up her post as Executive Principal of Moree East Public School. 

At the end of 2012 there was just one kindergarten enrolment form lodged and she was told to expect as few as 10 new students. Read more.

Go west for a taste of teaching

February 2014

Teachers from metropolitan schools are being given an opportunity to see what life is like in remote NSW by participating in a week-long tour to teach in Connected Communities' schools.

Connected Communities contact officer Paul Hughes said the professional learning experience was a great way for city-based teachers to get past their reservations of teaching in a rural school. Read more.

Rhino art education

February 2014

Rhino sculpture

Coonamble Public School is one of 55 schools from across NSW involved in painting 64 rhino calves as part of the Taronga Wild! Rhinos education program.

In many instances, the names and decorative styles selected for the rhinos reflect research and deep understanding by the students of the plight of rhinos in the wild, and of conservation issues generally. Read more

Indigenous sky stories

February 2014 

Students from Coonamble Public School and Coonamble High School are looking to the night sky in a collaborative project that aims to map indigenous sky stories and engage students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. 

Charles Sturt University's Associate Professor David McKinnon and postdoctoral research fellow Lena Danaia organised 20 schools to collaboratively map Aboriginal stories based on the night sky and each school has been given a telescope and an iPad to record and upload stories. Read more.

Language and Culture Nest 

February 2014

Wilcannia Central School has been chosen to host the regional centre for the Paarkiintji Aboriginal Language and Culture Nest. 

The nests are part of OCHRE, the NSW Government Plan for Aboriginal Affairs and aim to revitalise and maintain Aboriginal languages. Read more. 

On a positive note 

February 2014

Two Aboriginal children in a canoe on a river

The land is the centre of spirituality for indigenous Australians, so when Bourke High School students were asked to write their own song they chose to highlight their connection to country. 

It's Home is a catchy, country music song that shows the students' appreciation of the landscape of Bourke and includes the lyrics: "It's home. My connection, my soul, my start. It's home." Read more.

Data tracks student progress

February 2014

Wilcannia Central School has collected data on all students from Kindergarten to Year 10 and each primary class now has individual targets for all students.

Classes in Years 7 to 10 have been redesigned to ensure there is a timetabled numeracy and literacy group each morning. Students have been assessed and staff understand the level and skill gaps for each individual student. Read more.

When I grow up...

February 2014

Coonamble Public School has introduced a weekly information session so students can learn about professions they might consider entering when they finish school.

Titled "Job of the Week" the school invites one guest every week to discuss and answer questions the students might have about their profession. Read more.

Open door policy 

February 2014

Opening up community access to Wilcannia Central School has been a key priority of Executive Principal Sandra Bradley since she took up her appointment in 2013. 

Remote Wilcannia, two hours' drive from Broken Hill, has a shortage of internet connections and no town library so Wilcannia Central School is opening its library after hours so community members can meet and access computers and books. Read more. 

Cattle class steals the show 

February 2014

Students from the Bovine Appreciation Club with a

Nestled in the heart of some of Australia's best cattle country, Coonamble High School's Bovine Appreciation Club works closely with some of the industry's best practitioners. 

The club is run by students who operate every part of the business. The students are given a diverse range of opportunities to strengthen their knowledge of cattle production, as well as improving their business skills and employment prospects within the local community. 

Founded in 2003 after two Poll Hereford calves were donated to the school, the club now has a turnover of more than 30 show steers a year.

The club also oversees the production and marketing of BAC Blue branded beef, dry land farming, ration formulation and a range of community partnerships.

At the 2013 Sydney Royal Easter show (pictured), the 5am starts, midnight finishes and hard work paid off when the team of 15 students picked up an award in every discipline entered. 

With names such as Mr Greedy, Mr Fussy and Mr Strong, the nine Coonamble High steers were successful in categories such as led steer, parade, junior judging, carcass and virtual taste test.



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