Wugubank is the title given to a developing partnership involving two schools, Penbank and the Wugularr School at Beswick, an hour's drive east of Katherine, Northern Territory. Both schools are small with a similar level of enrolment.
The Wugubank Partnership began when a teacher from Penbank took leave to work in the Northern Territory – the Wugularr School was his post. During his 18-month period of leave, a number of Penbank teachers, including the school principal, visited the Wugularr School. When at Wugularr, they worked in a voluntary capacity, supporting the school in areas of need such as Art and Library.
Since then, strong and supportive relationships have developed between teachers and students. Wugularr students enjoy regular visits from the Penbank teachers and have the opportunity to visit each other’s school at least once a year. The first trip to Penbank for the Wugularr Mob was August 2010, and the following year the Penbank Year 5 and 6 students visited the Wugularr School. They are always amazing times together!
For the Penbank staff, the focus has always been on the schooling. “When we looked at the talents of the children, we saw that they’re artistic, they’re athletic, they’re rhythmic and musical. These are their strengths, yet there was not one teacher who could support those specialist areas of the curriculum. Yes, they need to read and write and understand Maths, but that’s not what’s going to hook them in.”
The purpose of the Wugubank partnership is to provide an educative experience through relationship building and school visits. It is based on the premise that young children naturally interact with each other and are not unduly affected by the barriers of culture or language. Children are generally free from prejudice and purely love to play and learn. In a school setting, and through structured and culturally respectful educational exchanges, the Wugubank Partnership enables the children from each school to understand and influence each other about their world. The Wugubank Partnership aims to develop long-term relationships over time, thus establishing trust, personal respect and connections with the view of broadening horizons for all.
A key feature of the Wugubank Partnership is the importance of learning through personal connections, genuine respect and consideration of others. The Wugubank Partnership reinforces that school is a normal thing to do for all children and young people that is enabled through quality experiences at a joint level when Penbank and Wugularr students come together.