Hymba Yumba Independent School students Daedae Jones, Carlin Renouf and Pheona Combo with deputy principal Erin McDonald.
Hymba Yumba Independent School students Daedae Jones, Carlin Renouf and Pheona Combo with deputy principal Erin McDonald.

How the most improved NAPLAN school in Ipswich did it

A RENEWED focus on respect, for students' families, community, country and themselves, is driving the most improved school in Ipswich.

Hymba Yumba Independent School took the biggest leap out of all schools in the Ipswich region for its NAPLAN Year 9 test results over the past five years.

Deputy principal Stephanie Walsh has been in her role for three years but arrived at the Springfield school of about 200 students five years ago.

"I would say through strong leadership there has been significant change within five years," she said.

"It's never one key individual or one key activity that creates success. It is a number of different approaches and an amazing team.

"The way we run the school is very much embedded in Indigenous knowledge.

"We teach ACARA and then embed Indigenous knowledge through the curriculum to strengthen those cultural identities of our young people."

A new writing program put in place three years ago has been key, as has a new reading program implemented five years ago.

"We do have strong teacher performance development framework in place and principal that very much supports professional development for all of our staff," Ms Walsh said.

"That leads to greater teachers and more proficient teachers so that we can support our young people."

Mrs Walsh believed Hymba Yumba's focus on developing the "whole individual" of their students, or jarjums, was crucial to academic success.

Uniforms for students and staff have four circles printed on them which represent respect for family, community, country and themselves.

"That just been strengthened in the last five years," she said.

"Those respect principles really are the foundation that stretch through the whole school.

"We have a very strong focus on high expectations of self.

"That doesn't mean necessarily high expectations is getting the highest grade in the state. It's a high expectation of how you conduct yourself and your approach to working hard."

Mrs Walsh said strengthening students' cultural identities also played a vital part of the school.

"One of the things holistically that we do with all of our jarjums from Prep all the way through to Year 12 is we have what's called Bandji and Tidda, which is men's and women's business," she said.

"Up in the high school we also have a wellbeing program which involves doing lots of activities such as Indigenous cooking and Indigenous games.

"We also have a very strong careers program in our high school space which our young people know to be looking forward to. Even when they're in primary they're fully aware of the career program and the support that we have in linking our young people with certificates."