“It’s about helping students believe they can do something, that they can be something. We’re not here to determine what that is, but to help that student believe that they can do something if they choose to. The biggest issue is that some students don’t know they have choices.”
– Maisie Floyd, Principal at Tennant Creek High School.
School location: Remote
Teaching staff: 26
Student enrolments: 250
School ICSEA value: 730
Enrolment growth over last five years: Stable
Distribution of students: 73 per cent in bottom quartile
Indigenous Australian students: 85 per cent
Students with a language background other than English: 70 per cent
Maisie Floyd is the principal of Tennant Creek High School, a school that aims to provide inclusive education for students from very diverse backgrounds by focusing on attendance, participation, literacy and numeracy.
Tennant Creek High School is a remote school located 500 kilometres north of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory. For teachers who move to work in remote communities like Tennant Creek, a personal and professional adjustment is required.
“Coming here is a whole new experience. Each job generally has a personal and professional element, but here it’s a complete change and a potentially overwhelming experience. That’s why having supportive staff and being accessible is important.”
Along with many other schools in the Top End, student absenteeism is a significant barrier to learning at Tennant Creek High School. Maisie recognises that of all the different approaches to improving student attendance rates, the most effective – yet most complicated – solution comes from how students see their own potential. “It’s the challenge of how you get people to believe in themselves.”
Above all, Maisie envisages that her school will enable students to exercise choice over the path that their life will take.
To set up a school environment that truly empowers students’ to have choice over the trajectory of their life, Maisie reflects, “Without wellbeing, you’ve got nothing. We need to have academic opportunity, but it has to be around wellbeing.”
Tennant Creek High School has been a Teach For Australia partner school since 2012, hosting eight Associates to date.