Distance Education students at Gunundi Anglican Hall, Ballina. From left is Casey Stewart ,10, of Upper Fine Flower; back left Kyia Butler, 10, of Mallanganee, and Sascha Evans, 10, of Drake; middle row teacher Judy Fredericks, Sam Harvey, 6, of Woodside, Abigail Paterson, 5, of Legume, Michaela Paterson, 6, of Legume, Isaac, 7, and Tynan Heperi, 6, of Tabulam; on the ground Kiel Heperi, 6, of Tabulam, and Hugh Walters, 5, of Buccarumbi.
Distance Education students at Gunundi Anglican Hall, Ballina. From left is Casey Stewart ,10, of Upper Fine Flower; back left Kyia Butler, 10, of Mallanganee, and Sascha Evans, 10, of Drake; middle row teacher Judy Fredericks, Sam Harvey, 6, of Woodside, Abigail Paterson, 5, of Legume, Michaela Paterson, 6, of Legume, Isaac, 7, and Tynan Heperi, 6, of Tabulam; on the ground Kiel Heperi, 6, of Tabulam, and Hugh Walters, 5, of Buccarumbi. Jacklyn Wagner

Long-distance learners meet up

STUDENTS from isolated areas are enjoying seeing their peers and teachers face-to-face at a special Mini School in the Gunundi Anglican Hall in Ballina this week.

The three-day Mini School is part of the North East Public School of Distance Education program and takes place two to three times a year.

There are about 60 primary-aged students whose families are from isolated areas enrolled in the distance education program across the Northern Rivers.

Distance education teacher and Mini School organiser Judy Fredericks said it provided a break for students from their normal lessons, which were held every day via satellite, and an opportunity for them all to meet face-to-face.

“It’s the chance for them to meet the teachers and their peers,” Mrs Fredericks said.

“And it’s great for us to see them too, as we don’t often get the chance.”

Fellow teacher and organiser Nicolle Den Elzen said some of the activities that had been organised included academic testing and assessments, revision, arts and crafts and drama.

She said local representatives from police and emergency services would also visit to talk to the children.

Mrs Den Elzen said the Mini School also provided an opportunity for parents to interact with each other and the teachers.

“We have a session for the parents too,” she said. “It helps them to keep abreast of new techniques and developments in teaching, which is important because they supervise the lessons.”

Year five student Casey Stewart, 10, said she had been learning through distance education since kindergarten.

“I’ve never really been to a real school,” Casey said.

“This is as close as I’m going to get to a normal school.”

Casey, from Upper Fire Flower outside Grafton, said this trip would be extra special because her mum had promised to take her on her first visit to a cinema.



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