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Values, culture and individualised learning at Radiant Life College

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An adult woman and seven Indigenous youth stand or kneel on a lawn. To the left is a building and in the background a canopy. Some of the youth wear paint in traditional patterns and wear traditional clothing while one holds a didgeridoo.
Principal Majella Ritchie is proud of her students and their achievements. Photo courtesy of Radiant Life College.
27 Jun 2017

When a school attendance rate increases from 54% in 2014 to 98% today, parents, teachers and government leaders need to know why.

Established in 2013, the Radiant Life College in Innisfail, Far North Queensland, teaches 97 students, 92 of them identifying as Indigenous.

It boasts the highest attendance rate in Queensland for Indigenous students and is a source of pride for the 25 staff.

The principal, Majella Ritchie, is one of only three non-Indigenous staff members and the only one who is not a ‘local’.

“We aim to provide ongoing support for families and students with assistance around academics and wellbeing,” Majella said.

“We are a Christian based school that specialises in Indigenous Education. We aim to foster each child’s culture, individuality and wellbeing through high quality teaching and strong Christian values.”

The school follows the Australian Curriculum. However, because each child learns differently, the school individualises learning through various programs designed to raise the literacy and numeracy skills of each student.

The children also engage in cultural lessons and learn the local Mamu language from families and elders.

Radiant Life College provides a door-to-door bus service, lunch and breakfast programs, and uniform and fees assistance. Most importantly, it adopts a family like environment that allows the children to feel safe and welcomed.

“The relationships the children have with each staff member is extremely special and personable,” Majella said.

“Each staff member takes the time to get to know the families as well as the children on a personal level. Our close-knit community and strong cultural pride allows our school to influence the children to be proud Indigenous people. We enjoy assisting in developing the child’s sense of identity through culture and wellbeing.”

This year the school has seen many changes including a new principal and three new teachers, all of whom have a strong cultural understanding. It has two psychologists on board as well as weekly on-site health checks and a speech pathologist.

“The children’s positive attitude towards school is very celebrated and valued by the school,” Majella said.

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A good education is essential for a good future and that starts with making sure children and young people go to school every day. It also helps keep culture strong and enable future generations to share stories about their community, culture and kinship.

The Australian Government supports Radiant Life College through funding from the Children and Schooling Programme.