A BRIEF HISTORY:
Kimberley School of the Air (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 it's own building. At this time the school received it's 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 - with a major focus on cutting edge educational technology.
In July 2004, the RFDS radio network was replaced by a state-of-the-art satellite communication system using the latest in 21st century multi-media communication technology. The SATWEB system links all enrolled students wherever they are across the Kimberley to the school in Derby - and to each other. Students have access to clear voice communication, screened internet services, shared applications and email - bringing the entire world to the remotest locations in the Kimberley.
In 2007 again 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.
Still sharing common grounds with Derby District High School, the school is now one of five Schools of the Air within the Schools of Isolated and Distance Education (SIDE), within the Department of Education and Training.
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 sq kms, 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 includes the Principal, 6 full time teachers, 1 part time teacher, a part time librarian and school officer and full time 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 - and provide extensive support via telephone, email, at camps and on the SATWEB.
KSOTA's teachers generally facilitate learning for one or two year levels, or multi-age groups (depending on student numbers) and communicate with students during daily SATWEB lessons for 30-40 minutes per day. The school currently has 3 studios to facilite CENTRA lessons for groups of students or individuals.
Students complete set work developed through WESTONE in Perth in conjunction with extensive school based programs where additional outcomes relating to individual needs are addressed.
In 2007,teachers continued to develop learning materials, resources and community sets based on approaches for our indigenous students, many of whom use standard Australian English as a second language.
DET and/or KSOTA provides each enrolled family with a SATWEB installation (computer, peripherals, printer/scanner/copier, satellite dish and its install etc) and loan arrangements for CD ROM based software, maths equipment, early childhood education resources & equipment, library boxes, sports equipment etc.
HOME TUTOR SEMINAR & 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 a valuable learning program 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 camp for the year - the SOTA Muster - coincides with our year 7 graduation ceremony in Derby - afterwhich our year 4-7 children fly south to Perth. This Perth camp 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 - allowing our children access to experiences and opportunities otherwise not within their reach.
The senior students also particpate in the Young leaders Conference held in Perth each year, this leadership day suports the contiuned development of encouraging leaders ship the in our school.
All school families are very active in the education of the children. The school is characterised by partnerships - which is the main ingredient required to make distance education successful for our children.
The school has a very active P&C and ICPA Association (Isolated Children's Parents Association) who, despite their remoteness, never fail to invent innovative ways to develop fund raising enterprises - such as the Annual Halls Creek Picnic Race Meeting & Ball.
The P&C and ICPA hold their meetings on CENTRA as well as face-to-face at the Home Tutor Seminar.
The School Council is also highly active in school affairs - meeting by CENTRA to guide the direction the school takes on key issues - and to assist with community planning.
Fudraising activities are continually held throughout the year across the Kimberley eg: Halls Creek Races, community events and student fundraising.