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Noble Park Primary School has students from more than 40 nationalities. Principal David Rothstadt shares some of the ways his school supports migrant and refugee students. 

A different approach to placing student

“Because we have learning houses, and they’re open plan, what we normally do is we put each new child into a room, and often the room that the team leader in that area is in. …We observe where they’re feeling most comfortable, with whom they might make some initial friendships, some relationships. Then, based on numbers and the dynamics that we see with these students, and the advice we get from the language school, we then place the child. So, it’s a slightly different way of operating and it means it takes a little bit more time.” 

“On one level the child doesn’t have a home, but what we’re trying to ensure is that the child has the right home in terms of the teacher; sometimes they gravitate to the teacher, sometimes they gravitate to some other students who might share their language, or they just might share a good relationship.”

‘Relational learning’

“What that means it that we’re always looking at ways to connect with our families and connect with our students in a really genuine way and it’s not just about waiting, by chance, to get to know what’s happening in a child’s life in terms of their family and their personal interests.”

“When a new student comes into the school, they will do what we call a relational conversation with the teacher… so as they can build a picture of the child. What food do you like? What happens at home? Who are the siblings? Is there anyone else living in the house? What are you hoping to learn this year?”

“…The other thing we do is You Talk We Listen. We don’t do parent-teacher interviews at the start of the year, we actually invite the parents up (which is really challenging for the parents) and we say ‘tell us about your child’, ‘tell us about you’…”

Creating a safe and secure environment

“Children feel safe and secure if there are nooks and crannies for them, so we construct, we use trellis and we use draped material and the like to soften the room and provide spaces that children can sit in and be secure while they’re reading, or doing their writing, or whatever it may be.”

“… (And) there’s been a lot of thought go into the way we create spaces outside. The number one thing I guess is that many, many of our students live in flats or units, so they don’t have a back yard, they don’t have access to that free play space and, you know, opportunity to engage with nature. Natural pedagogies are really, really important to us.”

This is an edited version of a podcast transcript published by Teacher magazine and has been reproduced with the 
permission of the Australian Council for Educational Research. To listen to the full podcast, and access the transcript, visit www.teachermagazine.com.au