Thunderbolt’s Learning Alliance

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This year Kelly’s Plains, Kingstown, Kentucky and Rocky River Public Schools have formed an alliance of learning and collaboration called the Thunderbolt’s Learning Alliance.

This alliance has joined together for many years for major sporting carnivals such as Athletics, Swimming and Cross Country; however, we are now also starting to venture into other areas to encourage schools to work as part of a community of schools model to share teaching programmes, resources and pedagogy, including teacher professional learning and collaborative projects such as TEN, Visible Learning and “Writing to get Results”. Although each school has its own context and uniqueness, we are all enjoying the chance to develop opportunities for our students and teachers to learn and work together.

So, who are we?

Kelly’s Plains Public School

Kelly’s Plains Public School was established in1863 and is located 10 km from Armidale in a peaceful rural setting. The school has a 152 year history of providing quality educational programmes and opportunities for all students. The school prides itself in differentiating the curriculum in our multi stage classrooms while encompassing a positive nurturing environment to ensure the school maintains a high standard of academic success, establishing confident and creative individuals in our modern society.

At KPPS, the school and community have worked collectively to ensure that all students are given the opportunity to develop and achieve to their maximum potential. We have a highly experienced and dedicated staff that is co mmitted to the fulfilment of the school plan. We have strong ties with the high school and collaboratively liaise with staff to best prepare our students for high school. The school provides an expert Learning Support Team that builds the capacity of parents and teachers in working with special needs and the gifted and talented.

The small school context is the catalyst for great school spirit and pride among students, family and teachers. The high level of community involvement supports all aspects of school life.

Kingstown Public School

Established in 1896, Kingstown Public School is situated 45 km northwest of Uralla in the Northern Tablelands of NSW. Set in a fertile valley, Kingstown is a small community providing support for families on the local cattle and sheep properties. Kingstown Public School is located in a rural setting in the Northern Tablelands of NSW, near the towns of Uralla and Bundarra.

Kingstown Public School is a school with high parent and community support.

Staff encourage positive and open interactions with parents and students and are committed to providing a supportive and cooperative school environment in which self-regulation, leadership and respect are fostered.

Our school motto, Knowledge, Progress, Strength reflects our ethos of continuous learning, setting personal goals and developing persistence and resilience, empowering students to reach their full potential to become successful and continual learners.

Kingstown Public School fosters a culture of high expectation in both behavioural and academic realms of student life, encompassing the philosophy of the “You Can Do It!” programme and the five keys to success in all areas of student welfare.

Kingstown Public School encourages global awareness through connected classroom technology which enables access to wider learning experiences, such as the Mandarin language programme.

We connect our students to programmes outside our school and link with the broader community and the University of New England in music, science and literacy workshops. This year we engaged a dynamic specialist music teacher from a local central school one day a week.

Kentucky Public School

Kentucky Public School was established in 1868 and has always maintained strong community ties and a high profile in the local area. The school enjoys spacious grounds and has been recognised as a regional leader in Environmental Education, which remains an important school focus with significant recycling and energy reduction schemes operating.

Kentucky has also established itself as the home of the State Small Schools Marimba Ensemble, building a reputation as a centre of excellence for the performing arts with regular performances at the Sydney Opera House, the Schools Spectacular and local eisteddfods. The school also has ukulele, recorder and steel drum groups.

Three classes currently operate at the school, with excellent pupil teacher ratios and successful support and accelerated learning programmes in place.

The school is a member of the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Programme promoting healthy living skills, including food cultivation and preparation.

Physical programmes include a weekly bicycle safety scheme and annual sport and recreation camps.

The school has an excellent resource base with a wide range of quality technological materials available to students, including laptops, tablets and interactive hardware in all classrooms.

Rocky River Public School

Rocky River Public School is one of the oldest schools in the New England region and celebrated its sesquicentenary in 2010. It is a small rural school situated 5 km north of Uralla on the Thunderbolt’s Way. We currently have three classes in the school and work within a cluster of small schools in the area for sporting, cultural, social and professional development activities. The local community is very supportive, and all major school activities are very well attended. The school provides comprehensive educational experiences to enhance the academic, cultural, physical and social development of students. A dedicated staff, excellent resources and a beautiful rural setting combines to develop in the students a love of learning which, together with strong basic academic skills, will carry them through their education and their lives. In this small school, students interact across age groups, playing with and caring for each other as a family. Small class sizes ensure individual attention – each child is treated as an individual, and their own needs, interests and talents are understood and catered for. The school is an important part of the Rocky River community. Staff, parents and local residents actively work to provide a strong foundation for learning excellence. We have a holistic view of education, encouraging our students to be involved in not only academic and sporting activities, but also actively promoting student leadership, values and contributing to the wider community. In the small school environment, students are encouraged to work independently and cooperatively to become self-motivated learners.

What are we doing that is new?

Together we are joining forces to implement a pedagogical approach to English using rich texts to scaffold reading and writing in a way that teaches students to be fully participating members of a literate society; this means, not just with access to the elements of a literate society, but also with a real desire to participate and confidence to be active players.

The Thunderbolts are also implementing Targeting Early Numeracy within our schools. The Targeted Early Numeracy (TEN) intervention programme provides support for early years’ students in Early Arithmetical Strategies.

Future plans will involve our schools coming together to share in lessons through video conferencing, making an interactive virtual alliance classroom for other project based learning opportunities such as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). We are excited at the prospect of providing an even greater opportunity for our students to collaborate with other like-minded students.

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