For the past year, the Nhulunbuy Higher Education Hub has been collaborating on the Community Based Assistant Teacher Education (C-BATE) project with Yirrkala School and Laynhapuy Homelands School.

Funded by the Cotton On Foundation, the C-BATE project is specifically designed to support Assistant Teachers and other Yolŋu staff in gaining qualifications whilst living and working in their own community.

The schools identified TAFE QLD and James Cook University (JCU) as a model of best practice for their staff, having delivered, community-based Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander teacher education pathways since 1990.

Through extensive consultation with Co-Principals Katrina Hudson and Merrkiyawuy Ganambarr-Stubbs and Principal Haidee Dentith, it was identified that the Language, Literacy and Numeracy (LLN) levels of some staff were a focus for gaining entry into the  Certificate III and Diploma in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education.

“There is no existing program through institutions or otherwise that supports the LLN development of English as an Additional Language or Dialect (EALD) learners prior to engaging in study.” States ALPA Higher Education Manager Rebecca Arbon. “We have spent the year developing, implementing and reviewing different strategies to find what works best – and we are absolutely thrilled it has worked.”

Nhulunbuy Hub and school staff have collaboratively developed and implemented an all-inclusive, personalised learning program for staff of all abilities to build stronger LLN, digital literacy and study skills. Ultimately this is seeing increased students eligible to be enrolled in courses offered by NQ TAFE, increased capacity of the Yolŋu staff in their classroom environments and the development of an adult learning culture at the schools. Yirrkala School has set up a designated Adult Learning Room that sees staff attending from 1 hour up to as much as 20 hours a week.

“Staff often bring their children in while they study, and there is a real sense of calm and focus in the space” notes ALPA Higher Education Manager Rebecca Arbon. “There is a real ownership of the space which is so important for learning.”

“Seeing people’s confidence grow over the year has been amazing” noted Lyv Knee, Higher Education Tutor. “The staff feel comfortable in the space and there is a great vibe, with students learning both independently and in small groups.”

With staff already receiving offers for their chosen courses, the next stage of the project will include ongoing LLN and study support as well as a targeted focus on bringing the studies into the classroom through mentoring and workplace coaching.