Queensland's education department will take over schooling in the beleaguered Indigenous town of Aurukun following a string of violent incidents that saw teachers evacuated, an attempted home invasion and a principal assaulted and car-jacked.
On Tuesday, the Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, announced her government would implement all 27 recommendations from a recent 67-page review into the school.
Some of the key recommendations include the government to take the lead in education delivery, Years 7 and 8 to be introduced and an independent financial audit of the school’s current financial arrangements.
Palaszczuk also took aim at the school’s US-based direct instruction, which the review found had mostly taught students about American culture, with very little reference to Australian or Indigenous culture.
Palaszczuk announced that the previously stand-alone model would now be taught alongside national curriculum.
However, the community’s Indigenous leader, Noel Pearson, said direct instruction helped students with low cognitive function achieve better results than they otherwise might have, he said.
“It's like a disabled child who's won a bronze medal at the Special Olympics. Is that a legitimate achievement ... or are you going to say to that child 'well that's all very well, but you can't keep up with the people in the real Olympics'?” he said.
“That is the whole problem in the way in which this school has been assessed.”
Palaszczuk said having the direct instruction model taught alongside the national curriculum was an acknowledgment that direct instruction does work in some remote locations.
“What we found with this report into Aurukun, is there needs to be a bit more focus on the national curriculum, but also on culture,” she said.
She added that Aurukun elders wanted students to learn more about Wik culture, which would be included in the school improvement action plan to be overseen by the education department.