Fregon is doing such a great job getting their kids to school, even the Prime Minister visited to learn the secret to their success.
Fregon, a community in the remote Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands of South Australia, had seen years of low school attendance, leading to the introduction of the Australian Government’s Remote School Attendance Strategy (RSAS).
Since then, local RSAS staff have been working cooperatively with the South Australian Department of Education and Child Development to ensure positive school habits are formed early, and families feel engaged in their children’s education.
To encourage families to access support to prepare their children for school, the RSAS team and the school principal formed a partnership to place a School Attendance Officer within the Fregon Early Learning Centre.
The School Attendance Officer works with parents and carers to get them to attend the Centre with their young children. They also provide support to ensure their other school-aged children are attending school regularly.
Each morning, the School Attendance Officer completes the RSAS school pick up run with the school attendance team; then continues on to transport mums and their young children to the Centre. The Officer then participates in the Centre’s activities with her own child and the other mums, and talks with the mums about education and school readiness.
The School Attendance Officer also works closely with young female students. It is hoped that this will make sure future young mums are familiar with the Centre and choose to attend if they become parents or carers of young pre-school children.
This partnership between the Centre, Remote School Attendance Strategy and the local school has seen positive results. The Centre now regularly engages with around nine additional families, as well as grandparents. Mums are becoming comfortable entering the Centre and school grounds, and better understand how attending helps their child’s development.
The literacy and numeracy of both the children and the mums has improved as a result of attending activities at the Centre. The Centre is now becoming a ‘community owned’ space, with Child and Family Health Service nurses and visiting specialists using it as the liaison point to undertake health checks, and to provide other vital services to families in community.
These ongoing efforts were recognised when the school was visited in November 2016 by Prime Minister Turnbull and the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion. They heard the school’s success stories and watched on as Fregon’s RSAS Mentor Dominic Barry was presented with a Community Service Award for his dedication to helping Fregon.