Maroubra Junction Public School to Benefit from Opportunity Class Redistribution

Maroubra Junction Public School will welcome new opportunity classes for gifted students starting in 2025 as part of an initiative to manage school overcrowding and balance enrolments across the city.

To alleviate congestion in certain schools and maximise resource utilisation, adjustments to the allocation of opportunity class placements within Sydney’s public schools have been underway since April 2024. Schools such as Woollahra Public and Artarmon Public, long-standing hosts of these classes, will see reductions in the places they offer. In contrast, Lindfield East, Brookvale, and Maroubra Junction Public will gain additional classes.

There are 15 spots each year for academically gifted Year 5 students at Maroubra Junction Public School. Parents interested in applying for these new classes can submit their applications in the spring of 2024.

NSW Education Minister Prue Car stated that the decision aims to evenly distribute resources and simplify enrolment processes for families with multiple children attending the same school. The intention is to reduce dependence on temporary classrooms and provide more opportunities for out-of-area students to attend schools with available capacity.

Maroubra Junction Public School
Photo Credit: Briggs Jourdan/Google Maps

Program Expansion and Applications

The existing 1,840 opportunity class positions will be maintained, but the number of participating schools will increase to 87. This move comes in response to the increasing demand for specialised education for gifted Year 5 and 6 students, highlighted by the intense competition for these coveted spots, with over 15,000 applicants this year alone.

Some schools, such as Blacktown West and Miranda, will introduce a new class each accommodating 15 gifted students. In contrast, schools like Balgowlah Heights and Kingswood Public will see their intake numbers halved, a decision driven by the varying demands and enrolment capacities at these locations.

Responses to Changes

Education experts and community leaders have voiced mixed reactions. While some see redistribution as a fairer approach to accommodating gifted students across more schools, others express concern over the impact of schools losing many opportunity class placements. There is also discussion on the broader implications for parents and students who plan to enrol in traditionally popular schools.

The NSW Department of Education remains committed to supporting gifted education. Policies are being reviewed and adjusted to ensure equitable access for all students. This includes an ongoing focus on broadening the reach of educational programs that cater to high-potential students outside the traditional opportunity and selective school frameworks. Updates on these policy reviews are expected later in the year.

Published 23-April-2024

Maroubra Junction Public School Principal Focuses On Developing A Strong School Culture

‘School culture’ has been the focus area of the 2021 International Teacher Exchange program between Helen Empacher, Principal of Maroubra Junction Public School and a colleague from Alberta, Canada.

Read: Proud Maroubra Resident Dylan Parker Taking Public Service to New Heights

In an exchange done virtually with Ms Kathiana Marc of Ecole Sainte-Catherine School in Alberta, Ms Empacher shared how the culture of a school can impact relationships with key stakeholders and learning outcomes for students.

“In my current school, I would confidently say that our school culture is strong. One way of knowing this is via our annual involvement in the Tell Them From Me surveys,” Ms Empacher said.

Tell Them From Me is a self-evaluation tool for schools based on two complementary research paradigms (‘effective schools’ research and ‘Dimensions of Classroom and School Practices’). Amongst other markers of success as a school, these surveys measure the school’s abilities in the eight drivers of student learning.

“For all eight, we have graded as above state average for the last three years. This is not to say that we are without challenges where our school culture is concerned. This is why I keep this at the top of my priorities because it is this that strongly drives student learning outcomes,” she said.

Developing a Strong School Culture

Photo credit:Maroubra Junction Public School

Ms Empacher, a principal at Maroubra Junction Public School for over eight years has shared a few recommendations to Ms Marc, who was new to the position of a school principal, working in a small school in this role for just over a year.

She believes problems within schools can be resolved more readily and successes can be celebrated more authentically if relationships and communication are strong. 

“Once relationships are established, more challenging questions can be asked, for example, as trust has been built,” Ms Empacher said.

According to Ms Empacher, there are three main categories when developing or sustaining and growing a school culture:

  • Verbal – includes written and spoken, evident in things like the school motto, the school plan, a shared vision, the school’s goals and the language used by teachers when talking about school.
  • Behavioural – evident in the school’s procedures, ceremonies, rules and regulations, rewards and consequences, structures and curricula.
  • Visual – evident in the school’s symbols, uniforms and facilities.

Culture, for Ms Empacher, is the environment that surrounds people at work all of the time. It is a powerful element that shapes your work enjoyment, your work relationships and your work processes.

Lastly, Ms Empacher recommended working with key stakeholders to identify the school’s culture and to negotiate the way forward for improvement. Principals should find ways to collaborate, to have parents involved, to communicate with students about their home lives and their learning at school and to be inclusive of students at all levels of need.