After two years of hard work, the Narrandera High School has developed a partnership with the Clontarf Foundation.
The foundation seeks to help young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men through sport, improving their education, discipline, life skills, selfesteem and employment prospects.
“In 2019 we’ll have an established academy in the school,” explained NHS Principal Kyle Bryant.
“There are is an academy in Wagga at Mount Austin High School and there are also two in Griffith.”
The foundation has a good track record: the average retention rate is at 90 per cent, school attendance rates are at 80 per cent, and as of October 2018, 79 per cent of Clontarf graduates from 2017 were in work or training.
“The real appeal of the foundation is that it’s a program for life. It’s not something that people do at school and then they leave it behind,” Mr Bryant said.
“It helps people as they’re going into uni, or into TAFE, or the workplace. If they need it, they can lean on it when they’re in the workplace as adults.
“We were given a presentation earlier in the year about the Clontarf Foundation, and that was what stuck out for me. The support continues beyond school.
“And we heard the stories of the boys who’ve gone on to succeed. That was really amazing,” he said.
The foundation began in 2000 with one academy catering for 25 boys. There are now 97 academies across Australia, and around 6,500 boys are involved in the program in their schools.
Even the Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been involved with the Clontarf Foundation, throwing his support behind the initiative since 2015.
The academy uses football, either rugby league or Aussie rules, to reach out to boys and entice them to stay in school.
The cornerstone of the Clontarf Foundation is the belief that kids who are denied the chance for achievement when young, coupled with under-privilege, can result in low self-esteem issues and its consequences; alienation, anger and worse.
The foundation gives kids opportunities for achievement. As part of the academy, NHS will now look at engaging staff to carry out the program.
“We’re recruiting at the moment. We’re trying to get two new staff who will work for Clontarf. If you want to get in the nuts and bolts of it, Clontarf looks at what barriers are there to learning.
“They work to remove those barriers, so that we can teach and get through to all the kids,” Mr Bryant said.
“Those issues might be poverty, or just social adjustment problems, or attendance. They work on that so the teachers can go ahead with teaching. As a teacher, you’re not going to be able to do everything, so Clontarf can help where we can’t.”
The Clontarf staff mentor and counsel students on a range of behavioral and lifestyle issues. The programs are delivered through a network of football academies established in partnership with local schools.
If students want to stay in the program, they have to continue to work at school and adhere to the objectives of the program.
Any Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander male enrolled at Narrandera High School will be eligible to participate in the Clontarf Academy.