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Duncraig Senior High School WA

My Asia Project—embedding studies of Asia within the curriculum

Duncraig Senior HIgh School, located around 20 kms north of the Perth CBD, has a strong commitment to improving Asia capability. The ‘My Asia Project’ was established to increase students' knowledge and understanding of Asia and the region.

Three years ago, the curriculum and resources at Duncraig were largely Euro-centric. "There were a lot of English textbooks by European authors on European subjects," says Assistant Principal, Peter Merritt. "However, we wanted to emphasise our Asian-ness, to show our students how Australia is part of the Asian region."

Getting started

Each of the school’s learning areas conducted a curriculum and resource audit. They reviewed their learning activities and materials, assessing whether these were Asia-centric as opposed to Euro-centric. Analysis of the review highlighted requirements of different learning areas and gaps in resources. The school began the journey to update the curriculum and resources accordingly.

Duncraig used the audit information as the basis for a successful grant application, to get the project off the ground. Each learning area were asked to submit expressions of interest that were assessed on sustainability for integrating Asia. "It was important that the projects weren’t one-offs," says Darryl Deacon, My Asia Deputy Project Leader.

Eighty-two percent of funding went directly into new curriculum resources for classrooms, such as new sets of textbooks in English, from Years 8 to 12, and a variety of different texts across learning areas. Duncraig purchased books such as Allan Baillie’s Krakatoa Lighthouse and The China Coin.

Other project components

As well as embedding studies of Asia across the curriculum, the My Asia Project features programs, activities and approaches, all designed to increase students’ exposure to Asia.

The school regularly hosts Japanese students, billeted for a week with school families, which raises tremendous awareness in the school. The parents of children who billet Japanese students have found it to be a very positive experience.

Resources that support Asia focused learning opportunities

New equipment, professional development and a large jewellery program at Duncraig were introduced. A roller was purchased for making mokume gane and an artist-in-residence employed to teach mokume gane techniques to the students and to the

Arts teacher, who now has the skills and the equipment to make that program sustainable.

The school also bought woks and steamers for the Home Economics department and sent teachers to Asian cooking courses. An artist-in-residence was engaged for the language area to make Indonesian kites with the students.

Establishment of a sister-school relationship

Duncraig Senior High School recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding for a sister-school relationship with a school in China. A 0.5 teacher has been appointed who will learn Mandarin and work with students so they can converse with Chinese students.

"Our sister-school program with China is a great opportunity to use the skills and knowledge we have developed over the last two years in Asia capability," says Merritt. “Initially, we hope most of the contact will be between staff electronically – teachers talking via email and Skype – sharing information about ideas, philosophies, techniques and strategies, and establishing cultural and personal links with another country. We expect this will also happen at a student level. Eventually, we will aim for the physical exchange of people who will experience life in another country and develop greater understanding of what it’s like to belong to another culture."

Groundwork was the key to successfully introducing the new Asia focused curriculum and resources. The school held a whole staff presentation, ran a community survey and an audit on a parents’ night. Preparations were made by teachers and learning areas, such as banners put up throughout the school, and the leadership team met regularly.

The use of ICT has been another important part of the My Asia Project. The school purchased Macbooks and video technology so students in Years 9 and 10 could make podcasts and videos they can share online.

Achievements of the My Asia Project

Duncraig Senior High School assesses the achievements of the My Asia Project on an annual basis. Before students started learning about Asia, they had trouble mapping the countries of Asia. It demonstrated the lack of understanding students had about Asia generally before commencement of the My Asia Project. Pre- and post-testing of students learning reveal an increasing level of familiarity with Asia. 

The My Asia Project was supported through funding from the Federal Government’s Becoming Asia Literate Grants Programme.

Associate Principal, Peter Merritt, participated in the Leading 21st Century Schools: Engage with Asia professional learning programme.


Image: AEF

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