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Analysis of school mission statement

The school being analysed is a western suburb, 8-12, co-educational High School. This school
is a medium-sized government school close to the city. It attracts many students from
diverse cultural backgrounds (Underdale High School, 2017).
Total number of 515
students
Males 219
Females 296
Students with EAL/D 29%
Australian Indigenous 2%
Students
Index of Community
Socio-Educational
Advantage
Distribution
Information obtained from the 2016 data found at the myschools.gov website

During my professional experience I observed many student differences being addressed in


the classroom. It was evident that the main student difference being addressed by teachers
fell under students readiness and learning profile. Underdale High school had a large
proportion of students (29%), compared to the state average of approximately 12% in SA
government schools (Government of South Australia, 2016), that spoke English as a second
language and therefore were classified as English as an Additional Language or Dialect
(EAL/D). Therefore, teaching staff had to incorporate strategies targeting students that
struggled with the demands of being an EAL/D student. These students needed targeted,
systematic and explicit instruction based on their language needs, they also needed an
inclusive and supportive learning environment, high expectations and appropriate and
authentic learning experiences and assessment (Michle de Courcy, Karen Dooley, et al.,
2012). ACARA (2014) advises when teaching EALD students it is important to identify the
students level of language proficiency, and recognise that a students stage in writing,
reading, speaking and listening may be different. It is also important to use students
cultural and linguistic resources that they may bring to the classroom, build on shared
knowledge and understandings, understand and consider the sociocultural, linguistic and
cultural factors when planning for learning.

According to the schools website they are committed to supporting students from non-
English backgrounds. The school offers the subject EAL/D for year 8-12, EAL/D support in
mainstream subjects in all year levels, bilingual student support officers and intensive
literacy program for year 8-11. From talking to leadership staff it was made clear that these
support services required additional funds, and due to lack of available funding, the
intensive literacy program was no longer offered. This service, that was primarily aimed at
targeting EAL/D students specific needs, had been massively beneficial in previous years at
reducing the gap for these specific students, but due to lack of staff funding the class had
been cut for the year.

The schools EAL/D coordinator advised, when teaching EALD students it is important to
meet the student where they are at and when planning learning have realistic and
attainable goals which allow students to succeed. During my placement I often observed
this not happening within the classroom setting, which led to many issues and problems.
These included students becoming overly dependent on the teacher, students becoming
defiant, rowdy or distracting others, students unclear what to do, or doing the wrong thing
and students loosing motivation or interest in their learning or tasks (Abdullah, 2015). These
issues were highly evident when observing 3 students in my year 9 Maths class. This class
had 14 EAL/D students of varying abilities out of 24 students. The 3 students were often
taken out of the classroom for EAL/D support, although it was within the mainstream
classroom that the main issues were occurring. These students would struggle to keep up
with the learning demands of the classroom and consequently misbehave. I believe this was
the result of a fixed mindset (Dweck, 2012), these students had formed a mindset in which
they believed they were unable to complete tasks and therefore became disengaged and
distracted. The teacher was reactive and spent much of the lesson disciplining these
students. I believe in this situation it is important to be proactive and differentiate lessons
to meet the demands of the students. There were a few lessons I was able to do this and to
my surprise these students were participating and engaged within the lesson with minimal
distractions.

Statement of Purpose
. High School is a caring, inclusive community that provides opportunities for
challenging, creative learning and values success and wellbeing for all.

Vision Statement
Our vision is to provide a personalised learning experience that engages students in a
challenging and supportive environment to strive for excellence and bright futures. We
are dedicated to working in partnership with our students and their families. It is our
mission to provide a student centred curriculum and have high expectations within a
supportive learning environment. (Underdale High School, 2016)
Taken from the Schools website

Throughout the Vision statement and Statement of purpose there are multiple references
to diversity and inclusion. When discussing diversity and inclusion with the school deputy
she stated that, our school is special because despite how many ethnic and social groups
we have, we hardly ever see any bullying or discrimination based on race. It is clear that the
school values and aims to create a community that allows all to learn. Although it was made
evident from many staffroom discussions that many teachers have different behaviour and
academic expectations for students based on their ethnicity or nationality. This can be
problematic for the school as many students display behaviour that leads to a school culture
where students are getting away with not handing up work, missing school and misbehaving
in class. I believe teacher expectations and school culture were the main reason why these
types of behaviours were being seen, despite leaderships attempts to fulfil the schools
vision and purpose statement.

Differentiation was a concept that the school used to cater for students who were not
meeting academic standards. I observed many times lessons, tasks or assessment were
being differentiated for students who were struggling with the content, skills or
expectations. Although the students who were at a high readiness (gifted) or were excelling
were often forgotten. I had this discussion with my mentor teachers many times about how
these students could possibly be extended besides going further into work for the unit, but
the only other solution they had was to have an extension part to assignments and tests.
This was problematic as students often saw this as extra work and something they did not
need to do. This form of differentiation would have worked if these students were being
extended through differentiation in every lesson through flexible grouping, ongoing
authentic assessment, respectful and targeted learning tasks and shared responsibility
between the teacher and student for their learning.

References:
Abdullah, S. (2015), Challenges for Teaching English as a Second Language and their Remedies, International
Journal of Humanities and Management Sciences (IJHMS) Volume 3, Issue 6 (2015) ISSN 23204044.
Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) (2014). Student Diversity - Students for
whom EAL/D. Retrieved 12 June 2017, from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/studentdiversity/who-
are-eal-d-students
English as an Additional Language or Dialect (EALD). (2016). Retrieved 15 June 2017, from
https://www.decd.sa.gov.au/sites/g/files/net691/f/eald-2016-report.pdf
de Courcy, M., Dooley, K., Jackson, R., Miller, J., & Ruston, K. (2012). Teaching EAL/D Learners in Australian
Classrooms. Primary English Teaching Association Australia.
Dweck, C. S. (2012). Mindset: How you can fulfill your potential. Constable and Robinson.
Underdale High School. (2017). Retrieved 14 June 2017, from https://www.underdale.sa.edu.au
Underdale High School, Underdale. (2016). Myschool.edu.au. Retrieved 14 June 2017, from
https://www.myschool.edu.au/SchoolProfile/Index/112710/UnderdaleHighSchool/49540/2016
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (1994) The Salamanca Statement
and Framework for Action on Special Needs Education, Paris, UNESCO.