Scholars scale ladder of opportunity

Students participate in a canoeing exercise on Lake Macquarie.

Aboriginal student recipients of a three-year Galuwa scholarship are really living up to the meaning of the scholarship's name - to climb.

The achievements of the 2010 recipients include 11 gaining high to outstanding results in English, nine gaining exceptional results in mathematics, and two becoming dux of their school.

In addition, some are taking part in their high schools' gifted and talented classes, three have gained enrolment in academic selective high schools, and one has gained a place in a selective performing arts high school.

The $1.26 million scholarship program, which began in the Hunter Central Coast region last year, is a partnership between the NSW Department of Education and Communities and Xstrata Coal.

It uses tutoring and mentoring to focus on literacy, numeracy and the successful transition to high school.

Positive role models

Aboriginal students in Year 6, with the potential to be positive role models, are identified through above-average National Assessment Program Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) results.

Each group of 20 students is in the Galuwa program for three years, giving it a total duration of five years.

Forty Year 6 and Year 7 Galuwa scholars recently attended workshops - known as Career Aspiration hubs - at the Myuna Bay Sport and Recreation Camp. The new Galuwa scholars for 2011 were officially presented with their scholarships at that time.

The hubs involved students in identifying educational needs as well as age-appropriate leadership, goal-setting and career aspiration activities.

Closing the gap

The program complements the Aboriginal education programs in schools that focus on closing the gap in educational outcomes between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students.

Hunter Central Coast regional director Robyn McKerihan said the "early outcomes for the first cohort of students are testimony to their hard work and the collaboration of Xstrata Coal and the department in preparing the program".

"It is hugely gratifying to see the students' potential starting to be realised in such a positive way, and must be enormously encouraging to them, their parents and teachers," she said.

"It gives the department and Xstrata Coal every confidence that the program will meet its goals of supporting high-achieving students and raising their profile as role models to inspire their peers."

Xstrata Coal NSW chief operating officer Ian Cribb said the company had followed the progress of the first group of 20 Galuwa scholars and was encouraged by their enthusiasm and career aspirations.

He said they were looking forward to following the progress of this year's scholars over the next three years.

Photo: Students participate in a canoeing exercise on Lake Macquarie. Photo by David Hartcher.

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