Wheatvale State School students Rhylee Bloor, Luke Samin, Erynn Bloor and Isobel Lewis get a hands-on start with robotics at Wheatvale State School, thanks to the USQ Robogal team.
Wheatvale State School students Rhylee Bloor, Luke Samin, Erynn Bloor and Isobel Lewis get a hands-on start with robotics at Wheatvale State School, thanks to the USQ Robogal team. Sophie Lester

NAPLAN: The tiny school that achieved phenomenal results

SMALL schools have proven they have what it takes to hold their own in national standardised testing, with one Southern Downs school boasting amazing results across the board in 2018 NAPLAN tests.

One hundred per cent of Year 3 and 5 students from Wheatvale achieved above the national standard in every category, except reading.

NAPLAN testing measures core skills in reading, writing, grammar and punctuation, spelling and numeracy.

Moving from a school with more than 30 kids in one class, enrolling his son in Wheatvale State School was one Deuchar parent Andrew Dunn has never regretted, despite the longer commute each day.

 

Students at the Wheatvale School enjoy and the fun and welcoming environment created by teachers.
Students at the Wheatvale School enjoy and the fun and welcoming environment created by teachers. Kaela Freeman

Two years after the big move, Mr Dunn's eight-year-old son Peter sat the NAPLAN test for the first time.

He said a relaxed attitude from teachers made students feel prepared for the exam, which measures students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 throughout Australia.

"They took a really soft approach in the lead-up and it wasn't an issue at all," Mr Dunn said.

"I think they did things to make the kids feel like it was something special and not a test."

Mr Dunn sees first hand the level of care and attention students at Wheatvale receive when he helps out with parent reading on a Thursday morning.

"You certainly get an idea of the standard and if the kids are having any problems they get supervised very well," he said.

Peter shares a combined Year 3 and 4 classroom with 13 other students.

"I think they are less likely to fall through the cracks in a small school," Mr Dunn said.

 

Peter and Andrew Dunn honour the memory of mother and wife Catherine Dunn at the Warwick Art Gallery.
Peter and Andrew Dunn honour the memory of mother and wife Catherine Dunn at the Warwick Art Gallery. Nicole Zurcas

But going beyond an academic focus could be the key to Wheatvale's success.

Mr Dunn said the school community created a fun and supportive environment that made children want to go to school.

"Even when we were on holidays, Peter was asking to go back to class," Mr Dunn said.

"I think if a student is going to be successful they need to be happy at school - if they don't like the environment they won't have their thinking cap on all the time."

Other small schools around the Southern Downs stacked up when the results came in.

Every Year 3 student at St Patrick's School in Allora achieved above the minimum standard in writing, spelling and grammar and punctuation.

 

Bridgette Harland and Greta Tunbridge of Wheatvale State School at the Schools Plant Science Competition held at Hermitage Research Station.
Bridgette Harland and Greta Tunbridge of Wheatvale State School at the Schools Plant Science Competition held at Hermitage Research Station. JoJo Newby

Year 5 students ranked highly in reading and numeracy.

Scots PGC College in Warwick also stood out with high achievers across the board.

The school's Year 5 cohort boasted 100 per cent achievement in all criteria of testing and ranked well in grammar and punctuation for all year levels.

St Patrick's School in Allora also achieved the national minimum in most areas of primary school testing.

Click here for a full breakdown of NAPLAN results from schools across the Southern Downs.



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