The North East Public School of Distance Education (NEPSODE) provides quality education for Primary School students not able to access their local schools. Principal Debby Jackson explains how gifted and talented students are with skills to produce an extraordinary art exhibition.
Please give us a brief overview of the North East Public School of Distance Education.
North East Public School of Distance Education (NEPSODE) is a split site school, with campuses at Port Macquarie and Casino. It services a school community covering the New England, North Coast and Hunter/Central Coast school regions. It is an equity provision in Public Education, for children who cannot access their local school for a variety of reasons.
How many students are enrolled at the school, and under what circumstances do students normally require distance education?
There are usually around 200 students enrolled at any one time, but in a school year approximately 300 students are a part of our school. Students enrol due to geographic isolation, medical reasons and other significant needs that find them based at home for education – sometimes long-term, sometimes short-term. Also, students travelling around Australia and overseas enrol to continue their schooling.
How does the school ensure students meet their learning requirements, and does technology play a large part in delivering lessons?
Using the NSW Board of Studies Syllabus, teachers design education programs to meet students’ individual learning needs. Every student’s classroom learning environment and context is unique, so a diverse range of technologies are used to connect students to learning, teachers and each other. Computers, the internet, blogs, iPods, MP3s, iPhones, iPads, interactive whiteboards, USBs and 2 way satellite connection through a studio for live lessons all play a part – and yes, the older technologies of pens, paper and surface mail still have relevance in the blend of learning tools.
How did the current art project in the school stem from the Virtual Art Gallery concept into the interschool workshops and the Gifted and Talented online program to an exhibition?
The school is supported through the Country Areas Program (CAP), which is a source of funding for programs for students in isolated circumstances. The network of CAP schools, of which NEPSODE is a member, had a common goal of designing a virtual art gallery for students to contribute artwork. At the same time on the local front, our school has combined with Rollands Plains Upper Public School, to focus on a common goal of producing art for audience response. The students from the two schools have completed a series of workshops on art concepts related to colour and design. From that springboard, gifted and talented students from the schools have been involved in investigations of art principles and responding to art, through a 10-week online blog-based project. The results of the workshops run via face to face and satellite lessons; and the 10-week online blog project are the exhibits now on display. These exhibits will then be contributed as digital images to the CAP virtual gallery later this year.
How have the students responded to this opportunity?
The students have demonstrated commitment through their participation. The workshops allowed for lots of dialogue among students, and they welcomed the feedback from their peers. The online project was also well received. The students selected to participate were either talented artists and/or gifted learners in other disciplines. They have used their skills in critical thinking, imagining and creating when interpreting the principles of art that were studied. They have also shown their ability to critically evaluate the works of artists to form opinions and have responsibly and constructively responded to the works of their peers. Very mature skills for such young Primary School aged learners.
As a result of this extensive artistic development, some fabulous artworks have been created. Tell us about the exhibition that will be held to showcase these works and the types of artworks that will be displayed?
The exhibition was officially opened at 11.30am at the Port Macquarie Town Library on Friday 23 September. It includes digital, sculptural and original pieces from the students that were inspired by the studies of historic and contemporary artists, with a focus on colour.
The exhibition will run through the school holidays and is a chance for people to see the original works before they become digital images in the CAP Virtual Gallery.
Given the success of this initiative, what is the likelihood that the school will organise something similar in the future?
NEPSODE has co-ordinated projects with other schools in the past, focused on Mathematics and Science. Next year, our school is hoping to expand the program to have students involved in class Project Based Learning, as well as whole school and inter school Project Based Learning opportunities across a range of subjects and topics. Investigating methods for demonstrating the results to a wider audience will be our challenge.
For anyone interested in further information about the school or exhibition, where should they go?
For further information about the school or the exhibition, people can ring the school on
6584 1118, email us on firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website at www.nepsode.org.au
We would sincerely like to thank the Port Macquarie Town Library for hosting our exhibition and providing that platform for a wider audience for the students.
Also, many thanks to Mrs Shirley Fuller (Country Areas Program Consultant), who travelled from Moree to open our exhibition. We hope many visitors will enjoy the exhibits and take the opportunity to respond to the works through the Project Blog via our school web site at www.nepsode.org.au
Interview by Jo Atkins.