Website fails to show school's spirit

By Rebekah Holliday
Updated November 7 2012 - 12:30pm, first published February 1 2010 - 10:41pm

WORKING at one of Wagga's most disadvantaged schools isn't without challenges for principal Michael Woolbank.Students at Ashmont Public School, according to the Federal Government's My School website, are statistically well below the national average in literacy and numeracy.Almost half the school's 300 students are Indigenous and half come from broken families.The attendance rate is 88 per cent.But what the website doesn't show ? cannot show ? is the school's strong spirit and sense of inclusion and unwavering faith of parents in its teachers to give their child the best chance at getting a good education.In the words of Carlie Wilson, who has a son in year 4: "Considering the area it's in, I think the school does pretty well. It's a low socio-economic area but the school tries its best."She added, "if I had concerns about my son's learning, I would be absolutely comfortable talking to his teacher about it."For Mr Woolbank, he could not be more proud of what his students and teachers achieve in often tough circumstances which he says is reflected on the My School website.The My School website allows parents to see how their child's school rates among similar schools across the country based on the NAPLAN test results."In most cases, in 2008 and 2009, Ashmont Public rates above the average in statiscally similar schools. As a principal, I'm very proud of how we perform against similar schools," he said."But I think the website is very limited in terms of contextualising the school. "The generic information that talks about student and teacher numbers and attendance is valuable as an overview of the school but I thought the NAPLAN data was very limited in terms of trying to tell the audience about the school."Most students are on personalised learning plans, which created in conjunction with parents are reviewed each year, he said.Mr Woolbank said there is a strong link between a student's skill in literacy and numeracy and attendance in the classroom."Some kids don't come to school on a regular basis but we aim to make school an attractive and appealing proposition for them. "It's about engaging kids in learning. We try to project school in a very positive light and the parents help with that."

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