Warriappendi School

1 John Street, Marleston, SA, 5033

Established in 1980, Warriappendi School (WS) is a small Aboriginal focused state secondary school. Warriappendi School re-engages students in Years 8-12 who have experienced difficulties in mainstream schooling, in an environment that fosters students’ sense of identity, belonging and achievement. All WS students are Aboriginal, most live in the western metropolitan area of Adelaide and their home language is Indigenous. Twelve staff worked with the 45 students enrolled in the program in 2013. In 2011-2012 52% of students were male and 48% female.

How this program works

WS aims to maximise students’ learning and life options through engaging and creative learning experiences that build on students’ knowledge and encourage their interests and passions.  Students work in age and gender groupings in small classes that foster positive community relationships and enable their motivation and success. WS supports students to focus on their futures, work toward completion of the South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE) and make the transition to employment and/or training.  Aboriginal studies are a curriculum focus throughout Years 8-12. For senior students this may include completing Stage 1 or 2 Integrated Learning for SACE through participation in the Aboriginal Power Cup. All students have an Individual Learning Plan including skills development in literacy, numeracy and vocational planning. Programs are designed and paced for individual ability, learning styles and needs. They include a range of Vocational Education and Training (VET) courses offered in Years 11 and 12 such as Certificate I-III in Business, Children’s Services, Community Services, Construction, Horticulture, Hospitality, Automotive and Animal Studies, along with work experience and short training courses in Learner Licence, White Card, Metal Fabrication, Tyre Fitting, Port Power Health Program and Labs For Life. WS provides strong pastoral, behavioural, wellbeing and practical support to students, including access to Tirkandi youth workers, Aboriginal mentors, tutors, free transport to and from school and a breakfast and lunch program. All students’ achievements are celebrated on Achievement Days and in the Year Book which dedicates a page to each student. WS also provides continuing support to graduates until they feel confident with their post school option.


Positive outcomes, indicating the success of this program, include: students’ personal, cultural and vocational development, access to further education, training and employment pathways, family involvement and community engagement:

Credentialed attainment: Since 2006, 21 Year 12’s achieved the SACE. In 2012, Year 11-12 students completed or partially completed 26 VET Certificate courses.

Program wide achievements: In 3 Stage 1 SACE subjects, all students achieved a C (the minimum grade required to qualify for the SACE) or better (2012). School-based assessment shows consistent improvement in students’ individual attainment in Literacy and Numeracy and 75% of Year 9 students achieved the national benchmark in Spelling (2012). In the 2012 Student Satisfaction survey, over 90% of students commended WS teaching, learning support, relationships and leadership.

Individual student achievements: A Wirreappendi graduate was awarded West Torrens Council Young Citizen of the Year 2012 for achievements in further study, mentoring and volunteering.

Destinations and pathways: Some graduates go on to university and TAFE studies; others have taken up apprenticeships, traineeships or secured employment.

Health and well-being: Students access knowledge, skills and resources for their health and wellbeing through programs such as Art-Think fostering cultural identity and mental health, nutrition linked to the school gardening and cooking programs and regular sport, including inter-school carnivals and outdoor activities such as cross country running, lawn bowls, kayaking, canoeing, sailing and windsurfing.

Civic/community participation: Students are actively involved in Cultural Week and NAIDOC events and contribute to a range of charities: baking for RSPCA Cupcake Day, selling milkshakes and running a school clothes shop with proceeds going to Save the Children and the Salvation Army.

Engagement with families: Parents consistently give positive responses on annual surveys, especially on the quality of education at WS. Student Led Conferences (3 per year), parent-teacher night, Achievement Days (2 per year) and family barbecues are well attended.

Productive partnerships: WS collaborates with a range of Aboriginal health, family and youth services for educational and social opportunities. WS has a long established partnership with Taoundi Aboriginal Community College where WS students access VET courses and mentoring.

Wider influence: WS approaches to Literacy improvement are recognised through inclusion of a WS staff presentation in the Literacy Leaders’ Resource Guide (Department for Education and Child Development, SA, 2013).

Why this program is successful

Staff identify the small school and small class sizes, positive relationships, holistic care and support, cultural appropriateness, the focus on quality teaching and learning and on students’ success. A 2012 evaluation attributed the comprehensive scaffolding of students’ learning and transitions to staff commitment and teamwork.

Want to know more?


Sources of information

Warriappendi School (2013) School website (accessed 6/9/13)

Warriappendi School (2011 and 2012) Annual Reports.

DECD SA (2013) Website (accessed 30/9/13)

Information provided by WS, 2013.

Please note, where possible and appropriate, we have adopted the language and terminology used by the program sources (italic fonts) and referred to the most recent publicly available information.

This vignette was developed in 2013 by The Victoria Institute for Education, Diversity and Lifelong Learning (part of the Australian Government’s Collaborative Research Network) for the project Putting the jigsaw together: innovative learning engagement programs in Australia and supported by the Ian Potter Foundation.

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