Scotts Head Public School is one of only four Bilingual Schools in NSW. Our school’s program delivers approximately 4 hours per week of the regular curriculum with Bahasa Indonesia as the medium of instruction. Students are immersed in Indonesian language while studying key concepts in areas such as Health, History, Mathematics or Creative Arts.
The NSW Bilingual Schools Program commenced in 2010 and is an innovative strategy to achieve a far greater level of fluency in priority Asian languages among a cohort of students at four government primary schools.
At Scotts Head PS we have been fortunate in having the support of many Indonesian teachers and native speaker assistants over this time. Classroom learning is enhanced by engaging with sister-school connections, digital collaborations, visiting artists and various cultural experiences. The school has also built a close relationship with the Indonesian Embassy in Canberra and Indonesian Consulate in Sydney, with members from both regularly visiting the school and offering support.
In May 2021 the first Indonesian community festival was held in Scotts Head, featuring professional dancers, musicians, artists, workshops, demonstrations and authentic cuisine. This was a wonderful opportunity for our students to perform publicly and for families to experience the diversity of Indonesian culture and language in the local environment.
We are working hard to build a wider network of Indonesian-speakers in our community, offering after school classes for adults, encouraging local pre-schools to embrace Indonesian as well as supporting nearby Macksville High School to expand its language program all the way to Year 12.
Many students from Scotts Head PS go on to study Indonesian at the local high school in Macksville, which now offers an accelerated language program and early-start HSC for high achieving students. This is a fantastic opportunity for students to continue to develop their advanced language skills while also getting a head start on Year 12.
Benefits of Bilingual Education
There are many proven benefits to bilingual education, for the individual student as well as the society as a whole.
Current research and practice have shown a clear link between language learning and improved literacy skills as well as enhanced general cognitive development. Language learning also increases students’ ability to converse with a wide range of people and generates understanding and tolerance of other cultures.
Bilingual speakers have been found to outperform monolinguals (single language speakers) in problem solving, mental flexibility, focus, and task switching. Understanding dual language systems, with different structures and rules, helps individuals perceive different situations in different ways and adapt their responses according to task changes. Becoming bilingual is excellent for your child/ren’s intellectual and personal development.
The NSW Government has funded 4 schools in the State to run bilingual programs in Asian languages. This is part of a government initiative to develop Australia’s capacity to engage with Asia. Indonesia is Australia’s nearest Asian neighbour and our youth need the knowledge and skills to access future Asia related career opportunities in fields such as trade, security, arts, and development. Moreover, our pool of Indonesian specialists in the above fields is decreasing as the old experts retire and there are few new candidates to replace them. This poses a pressing issue for Australia’s economic and security interests in our region. Our country needs our children to be Asia literate.