and Remote Education - WA
Meeting with Kununurra District
High School students, 17 May 1999 - notes
About 14 students,
both boys and girls from grades 7-12 attended. They were asked to identify
- What they liked
about their school
- What they disliked
about their school
- What they would
like to change about their school
The following issues
- Students like
the trees and gardens in the school, and the easily accessible water
fountains around the school grounds.
- "The water fountains
are important because it's so hot and you need water."
- "All the rooms
should be closer together. It's too spread out."
- Students like
the opportunities to study music. The school has a lot of musical instruments.
- "You ask the music
teacher and show him you're interested in it and not going to muck around,
and he gives you some basic music to start with and you just get better
and better as you learn it. You do recorder first. He supplies the instruments.
He's got about 30 guitars, 4 saxophones, clarinets . but he says its
good if you've got your own."
- There is a school
band in high school.
- The CROC Eisteddfod
is being held in Kununurra in July. Schools from the region perform
dance and theatre to music. Kununurra school will be doing a performance
on the stages of life.
- the good sports
equipment at the school
- the sports carnival.
They also compete against other schools once a year
- indoor cricket,
basketball and athletics.
Some students wanted
more alternatives in sport.
- "I think we should
have other sports other than athletics. We don't have a footy team at
the school." "There is Junior football in town but its not at school."
- "We have sports
carnival and Champion Boy and stuff like that but I just think they
should have something for the kids that aren't really good athletes
because some kids can't run fast and can't throw a ball as far as some
other people. It would be good if it wasn't all athletics for the kids
that weren't really good at it."
- "The Champion
Boy, the same kid gets it every time, because they always get the kid
that can run the fastest. I think they should give it to the kid that
tried the hardest, and didn't do so well but tried hard."
Some students like
having a variety of study options. For example,
- metalwork and
- sports subjects
- Pastoral Care
Program, where you can chose a range of activities. For example, in
Years 11 and 12 there are clubs at school which students can join. One
student participates in a police cadet program as part of Pastoral Care,
and he learns navigation, abseiling, knot-tying etc.
- The students like
- "We like the computer
room, which can be used in recess and lunch, because we don't have a
computer at home. We can do our assignments."
- They use the computer
sometimes for the internet. They have computer classes where they learn
to use keyboards. If they are doing an assignment a teacher will show
them how to use the internet. In some classes they have a roster to
use the computer in the classroom.
- They would like
more laptop computers. "More laptops at the school. You used to be able
to take them home but then some of them got busted and we weren't allowed
to use them."
- Students want
more computers and more internet access. They have big Pentiums but
not enough of them.
- Some students
in the group studied outside subjects through distance education. These
were mostly Years 11 and 12, and were in subjects such as physics, chemistry,
economics and calculus.
- One student liked
distance education because he could study at his own pace.
- "I really like
when you do outside subjects you can do them at your own pace, so you
when you are cruising you can cruise and when you get into trouble you
can just do it slow. Instead of what everyone in the whole class wants
- It takes about
2-3 weeks for assignments to come back. Students can always ring the
distance teachers. If the specific teacher isn't there someone else
will help. If you can't get in contact with them, a student can always
ask someone else doing the course. Other teachers at the school can
also help if you are really stuck. Students also got a free period to
study their subject.
- Japanese is the
only language students can study as an option. One Year 12 student said
he had studied Japanese by phone three times a week and it was pretty
- Students who study
distance education want more contact with their teachers in Perth. "We
need more opportunity to see outside teachers down in Perth. We did
go on a camp this year, and it was a good camp to go on. Very educational,
it helps a lot if you see SIDE teachers." One student had heard that
the funding for visits to Perth was going to stop. "I think they've
taken the funding out of it. This was our last visit. But for year 11"s
next year, I'm not sure what's going to happen."
- Students liked
school excursions and would like more of them.
- "We went to Darwin
for the Reconciliation conference" (Aboriginal girl). Ten students went
from the school.
- In Year 7 they
go on a week-long camp to Batchelor, NT. Students have their own small
dormitory. Activities include abseiling, rockclimbing, underwater hockey
etc. Although everyone gets to go, "you have to be good up until then.
If you are bad and get in trouble you can't go."
- The Year 7 excursion
is expensive so the students fundraise. "We understand why it's expensive
because we stay there for week and we have to pay for all our food."
Most students attend. The students go to the local shopping centre and
set up car washes, and do $100 boards to fundraise for the trip. "It
helps with the food and the extra money."
"Going on" to Year
12 in Kununurra
- Students chose
whether they want to do the Tertiary Entrance subjects in Year 10. There
are only about 10 students in Year 12 and about 25 in Year 11. Only
about 10 do TE courses. A few students leave for boarding school in
Perth. Others leave school.
- Senior students
are glad that they stayed in Kununurra instead of going away to boarding
school, although a few of their friends had left to boarding school
in Perth or Darwin. One student thought it would be good either way.
- "Their parents
reckoned that they could get a better education and more opportunity
if they were down south at a big boarding school, or with other relatives."
- One student went
to boarding school for a year. "I actually went down there for Year
9 to boarding school and I thought it was quite different. The boarding
part was quite fun, but the school teachers didn't have time for the
kids and didn't really worry about you that much, especially compared
to up here with such small classes."
- Senior students
like the small classes. "Small classes are easy to learn. Not many kids.
In English we have only five kids."
- "I went to Darwin
High before we came here and it was huge, and then we came here and
it was much easier to learn, you might only have 20 kids in your class
but there is more opportunity to learn and teachers do really care about
if you pass or not."
- Most students
in the junior years preferred to stay in Kununurra. One student who
is in Year 9 would like to stay in Kununurra but needs to do Year 11
and 12 to get into the job she wants to do. Others also want to stay.
"All the people I know who've come back from boarding school I don't
- One student in
Year 7 is going to Perth in Year 10 because her parents think she will
get a better education. She is happy about that and is "looking forward
to getting away" although she will miss her family.
Travel to school
Some students have
to go to school by bus. For some of the students this was a half hour
trip. Some buses go out to the communities and pick up children, for example
from Lakeside. There is also bus that goes out to the border of NT to
pick children up at about 6am.
Senior students liked
not having to wear a uniform. For younger students it is compulsory but
as long as it is plain and you don't wear huge logos, it is not so strict.
Homework and workload
- One Year 7 student
felt he got too much homework, especially in English, social studies
- Another year junior
high school student felt under pressure from some teachers. "Some of
the teachers, every minute of the day it's work, work, work. In the
middle of the day you've gotta have some fun sometimes, but some teachers
are so hard to please. Sometimes they expect too much."
- There are long
queues at the canteen at recess and lunch. "Sometimes you wait all recess
to get some food. You have about a minute to scoff it all down."
- Some students
do not like the food at the canteen as they can only buy "healthy" food.
There is no Coke, only juices. They also think the food is too expensive.
- "The Year 11 and
12s can go down the shop at lunch time, but the younger grades can't.
You have to wait to Year 11."
- Some students
think school starts too early (8am). Although school finishes as early
as 2.10pm, it gets dark early in Kununurra.
- One student wanted
longer recesses (currently 15 mins) and lunches (currently 30 mins).
"I think you should extend recess and lunch so you can play basketball
- "What I like is
the other people at school."
- "Some of the students
are mean." "We've got benches in Year 7 and there's this kid and some
other kids and they think they're the boss and everything, and they
try to take over the bench for all their friends."
The students want
lockers because they always carry around their heavy bags.
"I'd make it just
a high school, not a little kid's school. So you've got Year 10, 11 and
12, so we don't have to share resources and it can all go towards big
updated 2 December 2001.