Indigenous student population booming

Indigenous student population booming

The number of Indigenous students in western Sydney is growing three times faster than the area’s general student population, a recent analysis shows.

The analysis by the Stronger Smarter Institute of latest Australian census data found that since 2011, western Sydney has seen a 19% increase in the number of school age Indigenous children.

In comparison, the total number of school age children in western Sydney has risen by only 6% for the same period.

The findings for western Sydney mirror national statistics, which show that 2018 will see the highest number of Indigenous students ever across Australia.

Given the new findings and western Sydney’s multicultural community, not-for-profit organisation the Stronger Smarter Institute is calling on local educators to ensure they have strong capacity to nurture students of different cultures in the classroom.

Darren Godwell, CEO of the Stronger Smarter Institute, said the Indigenous student boom is taking place within western Sydney’s already culturally diverse population of students.

“The growth of both western Sydney’s multicultural and Indigenous communities means it’s becoming more important than ever to ensure that students don’t need to leave their culture at the school gate,” Godwell said.

“Real learning can only take place if our children are able to bring their whole selves to the classroom, and this is what we hope to help western Sydney teachers continue achieving.”

According to the NSW Department of Education, 65% of all government school students in Sydney’s west come from a language background other than English.

“Western Sydney has a rich cultural heritage. We believe this is a strength that can and should be celebrated in the classroom,” Godwell said.

“This means fostering high expectation relationships, a strengths-based approach and a positive sense of cultural identity.”

From February, the Stronger Smarter Institute will be running teacher training workshops across western Sydney every month to help local educators grow capacity to nurture students of different cultures in the classroom.

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Indigenous education improving, but challenges remain