Port Augusta Secondary School is a co-educational DECD high school in the Far North area of South Australia. The school is ranked as a Category 2 institution on the DECD index of educational disadvantage (DECD, 2012). Due to this, it offers a range of vocational pathways for students, in addition to traditional SACE subjects, from Year 8 to 12.
It is important to note that this disadvantage corresponds with wider socio-economic issues within Port Augusta. Approximately 15,000 people, with a relative demographic balance between men and women, live in the township (ABS, 2014). The annual mean income of $45,730 is low (ABS, 2014), in comparison to the equivalent Australian average of $57,980 (Ma, 2014). The low socio-economic status of the town forces the students to seek supplemental employment. Almost a third of youth aged 15-18 in the township engage in work outside of their studies (ABS, 2011). The high incidence of poverty raises issues for student engagement.
Accordingly, school strategies must respond to the demographics of the community. Notably, 32.7% of student enrolments identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders (YAT, 2011). As a result, the school provides extra support to Indigenous families and students through the “Workabout Centre” (PASS, 2016-a). This accompanies educational strategies that focus on alternative learning spaces and pastoral care. The school is able to do so through needs-based government funding. Consequently, the specific challenges of the area help form a strong school culture.
Due to the rural location, students learn in a less formal, more colloquial atmosphere. Teachers endeavour to form strong relationships based on mutual respect. The school also recognises that thei...
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...ment strategies underscores the importance of strong communication skills for teachers. However, the formation of collegial relationships is also crucial for teacher success. Teacher collegiality improves “professional development” and “job satisfaction”, along with “student achievement” (Shah, 2012). Overall, these relationships are key to teachers that attempt to meet the standards of this culture.
The data indicates that Port Augusta Secondary School fosters a school culture that values resilience and a growth mindset in both teachers and students. Furthermore, research stresses the importance of these values in student achievement. Accordingly, teachers require strong interpersonal relationships in order to succeed in this environment. Educators must collaborate with their peers to demonstrate consistent improvement, and as a result, fit into the school culture.
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