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Gawura School, offering students a culturally safe school

Starting students in kindergarten and teaching culture alongside the mainstream curriculum, in partnership with families, is what makes Gawura unique. 

Gawura School is a culturally safe learning environment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children located in the heart of Sydney’s CBD.  

In 2020 Gawura was named Australian School of the Year from the Australian College of Educators.  In their comments judges noted consistently high standards of teaching and learning, and their innovative approach to First Nations led education within a mainstream system.  

Gawura offers students a supportive, nurturing space where they feel secure, are surrounded by culture and language and can learn at their own skill level.

Education changes lives and provides choice as their first student to start in kindergarten and go all the way through to year 12, can testify. Izak is now in second year medicine at University of NSW: “If I didn’t go to Gawura I wouldn’t have the opportunities that I have now to learn about my culture and to do a medical degree,” he said.

Izak’s dream is to work in the community as a cardio thoracic surgeon so that one day so he can support his community.

Research shows that First Nations children do better long term at school when they immersed in culture. Gawura is fortunate to have 10 Indigenous staff.  

 “The students know their culture quite well. They’re proud that we are the oldest living culture on earth. Our history goes back 80,000 years,” said John Ralph, Gumbaingirr Man and Head of Gawura.  “We also teach language and our students learn Wiradjuri language.”

There is no government funding for students when they reach high school.  Every Gawura student is offered a high school scholarship and these are funded 95% by philanthropists.  These secondary students are also supported by a full time Aboriginal Education Mentor. 

 “The kids feel valued and treasured,” John said. 

Established in 2007, and located within St Andrew’s Cathedral School, children from Kindergarten to Year 6 are educated in very small class groups of no more than six, with an emphasis on literacy and numeracy.  All students are offered a scholarship to St Andrew’s Cathedral School for their secondary education where they become part of a much larger cohort of students but still have dedicated cultural, emotional and academic support.  Find out more about Gawura. 

This organisation is supported by trusts managed by Equity Trusteess