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Kuku Yalanji language program improves student achievement at Mossman State School

Students at Mossman State School have significantly improved their attendance, achievement, behaviour and engagement over the past 7 years. Of the school's 282 students, approximately half identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.

In early 2017, the school's leadership team investigated teaching the local Aboriginal language, Kuku Yalanji, to reinforce the cultural identity of students, strengthen connections with community, deliver the language's area of the Australian Curriculum and build respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives.

Supported by the Far North Queensland region, the school undertook comprehensive community consultation with the Traditional Owners of the Kuku Yalanji language. A language agreement between the school and the Kuku Yalanji people was signed, and the Kuku Yalanji Language Advisory Group established.

By Term 4, 2018, the co-designed Kuku Yalanji language program commenced at the school, taught from Prep to Year 3, 1 day a week by the Kuku Yalanji teacher, with support from a Kuku Yalanji Elder (pictured). In 2019, the program expanded to include Year 4, with plans to expand to Years 5 and 6 from 2020.

The language teacher has reported high levels of engagement and achievement from all students, with particular pride from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, who are experiencing greater success with pronunciation and intonation. Students are now using Kuku Yalanji in the playground daily, which was rarely heard before the program. Attendance by the school's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students has continued to improve.

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia (CC BY 3.0) ( )
Last updated
09 September 2020