It certainly shows how much the legendary footballer Barry Cable values education when his granddaughter Shelley Cable was named the state's best indigenous student and ranked in the top 0.5 per cent in WA for a 99.5 ATAR score at Rossmoyne SHS.
Not only has Barry's value for education been passed onto his granddaughter,his own venture working alongside Jenny Day strives to change the lives of people through education.
Both Founding Directors of the not-for profit Community Development Foundation, established 14 years ago, began when they recognised a major gap in the Goldfields town of Leonora WA.
With failed relations and communications between departments of justice, schools and the community, a social brokering was developed to bridge the gap between agencies.
Since then, the small six person operation runs a string of programs for implementation in various schools across WA, working to increase attendance and involve parents and the community.
One of these successful programs, the School Passport System, now operates in 63 schools and further into South Australia and Alice springs.
Currently funded by private individuals and the DoE which has contributed $120,000 each year for the past two years, the foundation is still in need of more funding. At a current cost of up to $2000 a term for a level 4 school, the funding costs can vary depending on locality and the size of the school.
“We could do more, with more funding,” says Barry.
The students are given 'passports' and earn passport stamps - points for attendance, behaviour modification and completing tasks such as reading and helping in the playground.
The points are then converted into passport 'money' which can be spent in the canteen, on uniforms and school excursions etc.
Parents too, work on the incentive based program, earning points for participation in their child's life and schooling -points which result in families being able to afford necessities for their children that they may not normally be able to afford.
“We both wanted to see parents become far more involved in the school. In our opinion they are the real corner stone for the kids going to school, particularly with indigenous families. From my personal point of view, there is not enough commitment there for the parents to discuss the importance of education and attendance along with the parents supporting these children in their schooling,” he added.
For many years, Barry and Jenny spent much of their time on the road from 1999 up until a couple of years ago.
They talked to schools, made preparations for new building sites for the programs, organised the lessons for parents and held meetings at the school to inform families of the new programs with the furthest school travelled to by car being Port Hedland.
Jenny, who comes from an education background, has a sound knowledge of evaluations, monitoring and research, explained that the program is very demand driven.
“The results are proven, we are bringing parents into the school and the teachers and principals are finding it effective because they have communication and contact with them,” said Jenny.
It's active participation, but measured, and there are habits that these parents accumulate in the pursuit of learning, she explained.
“We have had parents say, they didn't realise their children had to come to school every day. The parents have more pride in that they can now feed and clothe their children. It's extended to the justice system also.”
After receiving about four calls a week from schools that are eager to find out more, General Manager Nick Day explains the popularity due to the programs diversification, that a school can use their own discretion to mold aspects of the program to what best suit the school and community.
“It's because its individual teacher community, it's not a manual that has been dropped off to each school. Each school comes up with their own activities that are relevant to them, personalised down to the person.”
Nick revealed that a number of families have joined in the Narrogin region with two primary schools participating, one school having 151 out of 200 and the other 115 out of roughly 180 participants.
The attendance figures at Wagin DHS uncovered that 70 children were targeted as high risk and over 35 of those achieved over 90 per cent attendance since the program initiated at the school.
It's the visual aspect of the students having their parents involved and a positive parent/teacher relationship that provides positive enforcement for the child, he said.
“We have had a huge response from the parents, a lot of them had a very bad experience with school, their lives haven't been so fantastic and their relationship sort of ends at the gate. This has enabled them, on their terms, to come back into the school and participate in activities they feel comfortable with, thus learning more about what happens with their child at school, and the spin off that the parents as well have gone forward and started education for themselves enabling them to go down the job path continuum.”
“It encompasses not only education but sport health, justice and early childhood. For a school it's a chance to encapsulate all the issues that are associated with that community and put them in a measurable result that the community has come up with,” said Nick.
Relying on only private sponsorship money for the rewards system and government assistance for operational costs, the budget can be tight at times, but both Jenny and Barry have set their sights on expansion with requests mounting from the eastern states and the UK.
“It's an absolute mind set change in the community when you have parents actively engaged in their child's education. We are all working together; the village is bringing up the child.”