The new Sprints Program is off to a great start in Galiwin’ku, with students enjoying activities such as cooking classes at the end of the school week. The Sprints Program, also running on Palm Island and Woorabinda, links in with the Starting Block Program by recognising the attendance efforts of students over a shorter time period.
Students who attend school five days a week have the opportunity to participate in a cooking class or other fun activity as a reward for their attendance.
Shaun who teaches Senior Boys from Year 10 to Year 12 at Shepherdson College in Galiwin'ku says he has seen an improvement in attendance since the cooking classes were introduced.
"It's the sort of age group where we notice a lot of the students would leave school, but we've managed to have a group of about 12 students who have got very good attendance - 70%, 80% or 90% attendance - and the highlight for them for the week is the cooking program," said Shaun.
By recognising weekly attendance achievements with fun, relevant rewards, the Sprints project aims to build pride and self-esteem, engage students and families and increase attendance especially for students attending 3-4 days a week.
The program is also having a positive impact on student attitudes and concentration levels with the added benefit of teaching important life skills that link in with the existing curriculum.
"For some of the boys, their work ethic has become a lot more consistent and they're able to sit and focus for longer. That's a big change," said Shaun.
Friday afternoon cooking with Sprints has even taken over from the students' favourite pastime of AFL footy.
"Usually on a Friday afternoon we'd go and play footy, but now we go and do cooking instead. This actually connects to the life skills part of their employment pathways curriculum, whereas the footy was just a release."
"I say to the boys "What are we going to do Friday afternoon, we could go and play football?" and they respond with "Yaka (no) Shaun, cooking!" said Shaun.
"Galiwin’ku students are having a lot of fun cooking and I hope the program inspires more senior students to attend school,” said Evelyna Dhamarrandji, Programs Coordinator in Galiwin’ku.
Sprints is set to launch in Wurrumiyanga next term, “We hope this program will help students come that extra day,” said Karen Tipiloura, Programs Coordinator in Wurrumiyanga.