Hare Krishna school achieves top marks in NAPLAN

ABC North Cast NSW, Australia:14 September, 2015

Hare Krishna school, Bhaktivedanta Swami Gurukula, has gone from failing several NAPLAN categories to performing above the national average in all of them.

Premarvati is the kindergarten teacher at Hare Krishna school Bhaktivedanta Swami Gurukula: "As a teacher, I do not use NAPLAN to measure the child's success. I'm very happy that they're doing well in NAPLAN now though. In past years, we've been a very small school so we've only had a few kids who sit for the test. There are some kids who always do well, and there are some kids not in the core program who have struggled. With the new program we've introduced, we're seeing results and it's very pleasing." (ABC North Coast: Samantha Turnbull)
Bhaktivedanta Swami Gurukula principal Victor Machevsky: "The school has participated in NAPLAN tests over the years and we were somewhat struggling with our performance. For the past three years we've been working on the quality of instructional practices and, in particular, on explicit direct instruction where we unpack the skills of reading into very small, understandable chunks. This year, we're seeing the results of those few years of hard work by the teachers. The school has performed above the national average in all the areas of literacy and numeracy." (ABC North Coast: Samantha Turnbull)
Bhaktivedanta Swami Gurukula Year 3/4 teacher Keli Dorman: "I love teaching here because it's a spiritually based school as well, so we're able to integrate our philosophy into a lot of our learning areas. So, for example, a lot of writing tasks we might do might be focused on some of our spiritual stories. Also, it's such a small school that we're able to give a lot of individual attention to our students that you maybe can't get so much in a really large school. We have a shared vision and I think that's what makes it so good here." (ABC North Coast: Samantha Turnbull)
Bhaktivedanta Swami Gurukula student Vrinda, nine: "It's very fun here and you get to learn a lot of things. I like the teachers, I like my friends, I mostly like everything about it. I'm really good at maths and science. When I grow up I want to be a singer." (ABC North Coast: Samantha Turnbull)
Bhaktivedanta Swami Gurukula student Nayana, nine: "Our school is surrounded by mountains, trees and cows. I like that we're all Hare Krishna devotees. My favourite activities are maths and English. Mum got me an e-reader for my birthday and I've been reading a lot on that - Magic Marks the Spot, Harry Potter, Tiger's Curse. I want to be an author because writing stories is fun." (ABC North Coast: Samantha Turnbull)
Bhaktivedanta Swami Gurukula student Danakeli, eight: "I love our assemblies because we can chant and sing Krishna's names. I also really love ballet. I want to be a ballerina when I grow up." (ABC North Coast: Samantha Turnbull)
Hare Krishna devotees established the Bhaktivedanta Swami Gurukula school in 1980 at Eungella on the outskirts of Murwillumbah in northern New South Wales, Australia.
The school began with a handful of students but has grown to more than 70.

Bhaktivedanta Swami Gurukula hasn't performed well in National Assessment Program - Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) testing since the test's introduction in 2008, failing several categories up until three years ago.

However, the introduction of new teaching programs has resulted in students outperforming others across the nation in this year's tests.

Students performed above the national average in all categories in the compulsory literacy and numeracy exams.

The school also performed above the average achieved by other Australian independent schools, with an 84 per cent increase in average score growth.

Principal Victor Machevsky said Hare Krishna community attitudes to education had slowly changed since the school was established.

"Throughout the developing history of the school, the devotees have seen the need for children to continue developing the values of the Hare Krishna movement, but at the same time to become competent and confident members of broader society," he said.

"That's where we are at the moment, bringing in research-based approaches to literacy and numeracy learning."