THERE was always one subject at school that made the whole experience easier to bear – one that you may have even looked forward to.
For a group of indigenous girls at Tamworth High School, “Sister Speak” is that magic class.
Once a week the years 9 and 10 girls get together to chat about culture and life skills while enjoying a few laughs and jokes along the way.
Alex Gordon and Aleisha Brett say Sister Speak is by far their favourite subject.
“It’s like a family,” Alex said. “It’s lots of fun. We get to talk about stuff, cook, play games and do a lot with the elders.”
Since starting the class three terms ago, Aleisha says she is more determined to “stay in school and get a good job.”
And that is what the program is all about – retention.
With more than 20 per cent of the school’s cohort made up of indigenous youth, Tamworth High runs a number of courses aimed at keeping its Aboriginal students engaged in school.
Sister Speak teacher Wendy Barnett, along with mentors from outside the school, teach the girls a variety of topics, including budgeting, sex, women’s issues, grooming, exercise, art and cooking.
Mrs Barnett said the program had been a wonderful success so far. It’s very exciting,” she said.
“Attendance is really good.
“Their confidence has improved and they’re more relaxed in class.”
The benefits of the class are not lost on the girls themselves, either.
“It encourages me to learn,” Alex said.
“And I’m more respectful to my elders,” Aleisha added.