Royal surprise for outback school students

ROYAL RESPONSE: Students Hadassah Ashley-Brumby, Nathan Alangale, Aralise Fredricks, Alice Fredricks, Dastan Wurramarrba, Susan Lawrence with gifts from Essendon Football Club and Ben Kleinig (teaching principal). Picture: supplied.
ROYAL RESPONSE: Students Hadassah Ashley-Brumby, Nathan Alangale, Aralise Fredricks, Alice Fredricks, Dastan Wurramarrba, Susan Lawrence with gifts from Essendon Football Club and Ben Kleinig (teaching principal). Picture: supplied.

It was “big smiles and jumping for joy” at Manyallaluk School when students received a letter from Buckingham Palace! 

Manyallaluk School, a remote school 100 km north-east of Katherine, is using the strategy of writing letters as one way to engage students in literacy through creating authentic writing experiences.

Queen Elizabeth and Essendon Football Club megastars have been recipients of letters from junior and senior primary students at Manyallaluk School.  

To the delight of students, they have received responses from both Mary Robinson, Lady-in-Waiting to Queen Elizabeth and the Essendon Football Club.  

Education Minister Eva Lawler was thrilled with the students’ commitment to writing and the responses they received. 

“This is one of those stories that simply brings a smile to your face,” Ms Lawler said. 

“The students will remember this moment for the rest of their lives and I commend the teachers, staff and students for their great initiative. 

“To see such wonderful things happen in our remote schools is fantastic and I can’t wait to hear about the future letters they write – and the responses they receive!”   

Teaching Principal of Manyallaluk School, Ben Kleinig said that through this activity, students have been gaining confidence in their writing skills. 

“We slowly introduced letter writing last term, and then realised its potential,” he said. 

“The kids chose their favourite football players, and The Queen — someone who is pretty popular with our students. 

“Making the writing experience authentic with an audience beyond just the teacher and reaching a global audience gets our students excited about writing. 

“Enthusiasm and excitement about writing translates into more effort, self-belief, having-a-go and more time put into writing by the kids. 

“Getting a “real-world” reply is its own reward and the kids love it. Imagine big smiles and lots of jumping for joy when one of these replies arrives in the mail!

“One substantial improvement is our students gaining the confidence to move away from relying on the teacher, being brave enough to have a go at sounding-out and then being open to feedback.”

In her letter to The Queen, Year 2 student, Alice wrote: ‘Dear Queen Elizabeth. Did you have a birthday cake? Old Mary was sitting down drinking a cup of tea watching the dogs chase a buffalo. But don't worry, she can run fast. From Alice.’

So will this education strategy be continued into the future by the school? 

“Yes! The opportunities are limitless and the results so far are very exciting,” Mr Kleinig said.