Location: Derby, Western Australia.
Contributing Staff Authors:
Paul Noble: Paul has been teaching for over 30 years in government public schools across WA from Bridgetown to Halls Creek and Derby. Paul has both taught at and been Principal at Kimberley School of the Air. He is currently on Long-Service Leave.
Amanda Ogg: Amanda has been teaching across a variety of settings in WA public schools for four year. This is Amanda’s second year at Kimberley School of the Air as the Year One and Two teacher.
Cathie Bonner: Cathie has been teaching for 17 years in both High Schools and Primary schools across the South West of WA and in the A.C.T. She has worked extensively in the field of Special Needs Education and is currently acting in the role of Principal at KSOTA for the remainder of this year.
Kimberley School of Air is one of the 5 Schools of Air in Western Australia. KSOTA provides educational services to children living in remote and isolated locations across the Kimberley region of WA. The school commenced operations in 1960 at the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) base at the Derby Airport, before eventually transferring to the Derby District High School campus and, in 1981, to its own building. At this time the school received its own HF frequency eliminating interruptions to air lessons by RFDS emergencies and general business. The school, rapidly expanding in enrolments and staff, was given a second and third building in 1987 and 1990. A second radio frequency was also added in 1990.
KSOTA moved into a new, purpose designed and built facility in April, 2002 – reflecting the Education Department’s commitment to distance education in the Kimberley region of WA. The facility is characterized by high quality, flexible work and learning spaces.
In 2007 School of the Air went through a major upgrade and the new CENTRA system was introduced, enabling quicker and clearer air sessions, conferencing and one to one sessions. Centra can be used at any location across not only the state but continent.
Kimberley School of the Air caters for the educational needs of isolated children from pre-school (kindergarten) to Year 7 in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. Spread across an area of some 450,000 square kilometers, these children live on remote cattle stations, stations now catering to tourism, small Aboriginal communities or out-stations and smaller rural farming blocks. Although the student population varies across the dry and wet seasons of the sub-tropical north, the indigenous student enrolment generally averages between 35-45 percent of the school population.
KSOTA staff numbers vary according to student numbers, but currently include a Principal, 4 full time teachers, a learning support teacher, a part time librarian and education assistant, and a school officer/registrar.
Daily learning experiences are delivered through a collaborative relationship between teachers and home tutors – usually a mother or caregiver, occasionally a paid governess – who tutor their children through their learning programs. In this form of ‘home schooling’, teachers provide professional advice to tutors and students, develop and plan curriculum, monitor and assess student progress, and provide all important pastoral care to students and tutors.
Teachers also visit remote home site for these purposes; using 4WD vehicles and chartered light aircraft. Teachers provide extensive support via telephone, email, at camps and on the Centra air lessons.
Home Tutor Seminar and Camps
Camps play a major role in the education of our isolated students.
The main school camp, the Home Tutor Seminar, brings together the entire school community including students, teachers, parents and tutors. At this seminar parents and tutors are provided with valuable professional development and training to help them with their teaching role – not to mention lots of networking opportunities. Children also participate in valuable learning programs rich in socialisation opportunities. This event also plays a major role in building our strong sense of community.
Throughout the year the school holds mini camps. These are regional and designed to be at minimal cost for families. The mini camps, often held on larger stations or in a regional town, are a time for students to get together and develop computer skills, team skills in sports, arts, problem solving and project work.
The final camps of the year coincide with our year 6 and 7 graduation ceremony in Broome. After which the K-3 children remain in Broome for an ECE camp and the Year 4-7 students fly to Perth for SOTA Muster. The SOTA Muster is attended by year 4-7 students from each of the five Schools of the Air and offers a wide range of learning experiences to students, including visits to museums, science centres, Adventure World, sports development days and personal development programs. This allows our students access to experiences and opportunities otherwise not within their reach.