Brought to you by Newscorp Australia

Pupils learn the power of the pen after voicing their concerns on schooling to local real estate agent

Darren Cartwright, March 12, 2018 8:03PM The Courier-Mail

Print Article

Every Grade 1-5 student at St Kevin’s Primary School at Geebung wrote a letter defending the quality of schools in the area. media_cameraEvery Grade 1-5 student at St Kevin’s Primary School at Geebung wrote a letter defending the quality of schools in the area.

civics

Reading level: green

A Brisbane real estate agent could not believe his eyes when his mailbox was jammed* with protest* letters from more than 200 disappointed students from a local primary school.

Every Grade 1-5 student at St Kevin’s Primary School at Geebung wrote a letter to Innov8 Property owner Michael Spillane for saying their suburb lacked schools in an article in The Courier-Mail newspaper.

Real estate agent Michael Spillane with some of the students at St Kevin's Primary School in Geebung who wrote letters to him after he made a comment about Geebung-based schools. Picture: AAP media_cameraReal estate agent Michael Spillane with some of the students at St Kevin’s Primary School in Geebung who wrote letters to him after he made a comment about Geebung-based schools. Picture: AAP

St Kevin’s Primary Learning Leader Nikki Saunders said the exercise of writing and posting letters was to teach the children to have a voice and to stand–up for what they believed in.

She said it started out as a discussion point before it developed into a practical assignment.

A decision was made to post the letters, rather than email them, to Mr Spillane.

“We wanted the students to know their voice can be heard … and we wanted to give them an opportunity in what they believed in,” Ms Saunders said.

One of the letters written by St Kevin's students. media_cameraOne of the letters written by St Kevin’s students.
Another of the letters written by St Kevin's students. media_cameraAnother of the letters written by St Kevin’s students.

Mr Spillane attended St Kevin’s last week to deliver a face-to-face apology and promised to answer every letter.

“I’ll just need some time to write back to each child,” he said.

Ms Saunders said the students now understood the importance of expressing* your views and how it can have a positive effect.

“Having the response to this, has definitely given them motivation* to go out more and to see what else they can do to help the others in the community,” she said.

The welcome sign at St Kevin’s Primary School in Geebung ahead of real estate agent Michael Spillane’s visit. media_cameraThe welcome sign at St Kevin’s Primary School in Geebung ahead of real estate agent Michael Spillane’s visit.

Mr Spillane’s comment was about how there were only two primary schools and no secondary schools in Geebung, but there were high schools in the surrounding neighbourhoods which still made the suburb attractive for families.

Mr Spillane said the “children had taught me a lesson” about the quality of schools in Geebung.

GLOSSARY

jammed: packed tightly into a space

protest: a statement or action disagreeing with something

expressing: how you show thoughts or feelings in words or actions

motivation: enthusiasm to do something

LISTEN TO TODAY’S STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES

1. Flow Chart

Read or listen to the article carefully and complete the following activity.

Mr Spillane has offended the St Kevin’s school community in Geebung and the students have taken action! Draw a flow chart of what has happened.

The following questions may help you… How has Mr Spillane offended them? How did they react? What did they do? Why? What happened next? Has it been resolved? How?

Extension: The students decided to post more than 200 letters to Mr Spillane. Do you think this strategy helped them to make their point? Would it have had the same effect if one student had written a letter? If the teacher had written on behalf of the students? Or if they had emailed their letters? Why/Why not?

Time: Allow 30 minutes

Curriculum links: English, Personal and Social Capabilities, Ethical Capabilities

2. Take Action

The students at St Kevin’s Primary School have taken action on an issue they believed in, in their local community.

What issues do you feel strongly about (it could be a personal issue, local community issue or something more global)?

What action can you take that will make a difference? Perhaps there is something being built in your community that will affect the environment, perhaps there is a new rule at school that you don’t feel is fair, perhaps there is something happening that endangers animals or the environment, or you can see a way that things can be changed to improve the environment or that will protect animals.

Write a letter to the appropriate people to try and bring about some change. (Who the appropriate people are will depend on your issue. It may be to an individual person, to an organisation or business, an open letter to the community, or a letter to the editor of a newspaper) Make sure your letter is factual and polite. Ensure that it details what the issue is, why it bothers you, how it can be addressed and why it is important.

Extension: Writing letters to Mr Spillane was one way of responding and letting him know that the schools in Geebung did exist and were good quality. What other courses of action could they have taken?

Make a list of appropriate and inappropriate actions that can be taken when somebody offends you.

For example;

Appropriate – calmly explain why it isn’t true

Inappropriate – physically attack them

Time: Allow 60 minutes

Curriculum links: English, Personal and Social Capabilities, Ethical Capabilities

VCOP ACTIVITY

After reading the article, with a partner, highlight as many wow words or ambitious pieces of vocabulary that you can find in yellow. Discuss the meanings of these words and see if you can use them orally in another sentence.

IN ONE SENTENCE, TELL US WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT TODAY’S STORY

Please do not use one-word answers. Explain what you enjoyed or found interesting about today’s article. Use lots of adjectives.

Extra Reading in civics