Curran Public School - Future Problem Solving Championships

22 June 2016

Private Members’ Statement

Mr ANOULACK CHANTHIVONG (Macquarie Fields) (17:13): To sow the seeds of education is to plant a life full of possibilities. Those seeds have already started sprouting branches for a group of young students from Curran Public School at Macquarie Fields who have achieved success beyond their wildest dreams. Recently 12 year 5 and year 6 students returned home after representing their school and our community in a trip of a lifetime to the United States of America where they earned third place at the international finals of the Future Problem Solving [FPS] championships. What a wonderful achievement, with the kids from Macquarie Fields showing the world their intelligence, hard work and ability to achieve.

Curran Public School is the only New South Wales public school to win at this level of the FPS program. This amazing result was the culmination of more than a year's hard work by the students and teachers, some gritty determination, a generous community spirit and the resolute belief of principal Michael Strahan. Michael has always maintained that the students' postcode would be no barrier to success nor define them—indeed, it was not and did not. Time has shown that nothing was going to get in the way of these students and their dream of helping others. The journey to success started around 12 months ago when the school decided to enter a team in the FPS championships, an international educational program for students of all ages that encourages critical, creative and futuristic thinking skills among young people.

With the slogan "Kids Helping Kids", the students developed an innovative care package for incoming kindergarten students at the school. Each package contains educational resources such as alphabet and number charts, stationery and worksheets to support early learning. The packages were developed after the students found that the academic skill level of children entering kindergarten at their school was below average. From that moment on the students decided to make a difference. The care packages help kindergarten students at Curran Public School start in an academically better place than has existed before, and foster a wonderful partnership in learning between the school and home environment. The students and teachers could not have imagined the journey ahead of them when they decided to enter the competition.

Travelling to Brisbane last October to compete at the national finals and claiming victory was only the beginning. The win provided the impetus for the students to start fundraising to compete at the international finals, which were held in June in Michigan in the United States. The students captured the hearts and minds of the local community; a fundraising website was established and a ball was held to help the students achieve their dream of competing at the international finals. Thanks to the community's generous support, the school exceeded its fundraising goal. Not only were the students able to enjoy the trip of a lifetime thanks to the community's amazing generosity but the additional funds that were raised will ensure the continuation of the program and care packages for future students. The champions from Curran Public School have been on a life-changing journey from Macquarie Fields to Michigan; it was the first international trip for many of them. The project has transformed the lives of these young students on many levels. They have gained new skills, enhanced their self‑belief and gained greater confidence. Importantly, it has inspired them to dream.

The Curran Public School students are champions of our public education system, where lifelong skills and opportunity go hand in hand to empower local communities to produce future leaders. The legacy of our young champions from Curran Public School will be the seeds of knowledge they have sowed for future generations—but they will not know many of them because they will move on to higher education. As the member for Macquarie Fields, I am particularly proud that students from our local community have produced such amazing achievements. I congratulate all of those involved in this wonderful celebration of success, excellence and community spirit. I end with the words of our high achieving students: "Together we can make a change." Together our students have made a tremendous change for the betterment of our community.