Calls for education review in Aurukun


The quality of schooling in Aurukun has been called into question with growing calls for an urgent review of an education model which a federal MP has described as a failure.

The troubled indigenous community’s only school is closed after the last of 20 teachers were evacuated from the township on Thursday amid fears for their personal safety.

The evacuation, the second in two weeks, has raised questions about indigenous leader Noel Pearson’s education model in Cape York.

Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch says the provision of education in Aurukun has to be seriously reviewed as current arrangements are proving costly and unsuccessful.

“Personally, I think it’s a failed model,” Mr Entsch told AAP.

“While he (Mr Pearson) has some great ideas, they shouldn’t be at the expense of the community.”

Queensland Teachers Union president Kevin Bates said teachers have also raised concerns about the education model, particularly around the absence of local schooling for students in years 7 to 10.

Mr Bates said the state’s education department needed to closely examine the school and ensure there wouldn’t be another evacuation once teachers returned.

The school’s principal, Scott Fatnowa, has been carjacked twice in two weeks and a group of children, including some as young as six, was involved in a series of targeted attacks near the teachers’ accommodation on Tuesday night.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has spoken to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk about the crisis and offered federal help to deal with unruly kids, without saying what it might entail.

Ms Palaszczuk said an experienced principal and two teachers would travel to Aurukun on Monday to support students in the distance education program being run out of the community’s PCYC.

The announcement came after Aurukun elders lashed out at the government’s decision to close the school until July, accusing it of abandoning the school’s 300-odd students.

“We have 10-15 teenagers controlling the government like puppeteers,” the Wik Women’s Group said in a statement.

Mr Entsch said it was time for the community to step up and for the school, which was leaving students totally unprepared for boarding school, to go under the microscope.

It comes a week after the school’s former principal Ian Mackie said there should be a state government inquiry to get to the root of the unrest, a call backed by highly-regarded indigenous educator Dr Chris Sarra.

Mr Pearson’s Cape York Aboriginal Australian Academy, which covers the Aurukun school, was created at the start of 2010.

The publicly-funded academy is based on the Direct Instruction teaching method, which was devised in the United States in the 1960s and includes tightly structured lessons and frequent assessment.

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