Chloe Allen: Leading the Charge to Close the Gap in Indigenous Education

Chloe Allen: Leading the Charge to Close the Gap in Indigenous Education

Chloe Allen, an Awabakal and Dunghutti woman who grew up in the Northern Rivers on Bundjalung Country, has broken significant barriers in her family by becoming the first to finish secondary school and earn a university degree. Now, she’s using her experience and passion for education to help Indigenous students achieve their own academic success. Chloe Allen: Leading the Charge to Close the Gap in Indigenous Education

Ms. Allen joined MultiLit last year as the project lead for the federal government-funded Closing the Gap program. This initiative aims to improve English literacy outcomes for Indigenous students across Australia. Since then, she has been visiting Indigenous-majority schools enrolled in the program, offering support and strategies to enhance students’ reading skills.

“Staying in school just wasn’t encouraged when I was growing up; it was sort of expected that you would get an apprenticeship or find a job around year 9 or 10,” she said. “Completing school and going on to further study absolutely changed the course of my life. I want all young people – especially Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students – to have that same opportunity and go on to become leaders in their own fields.”

Prior to her current role, Ms. Allen was the headteacher at the Pacific Gulgangali Jarjums Christian School in Tweed Heads, which caters to Indigenous students needing extra support in the classroom. She observed that many First Nations students were leaving school with reading levels significantly below the national minimum standard, severely impacting their employment prospects.

The COVID-19 pandemic further disrupted schooling, causing many students to fall more than two years behind the average reading ability. Ms. Allen noted, “A lot of my former students have experienced trauma in their lives, and they needed routine and structure to feel comfortable even being inside a classroom. The balanced literacy approach, which relies on children being quite independent in their learning, just wasn’t working.”

Launched in 2021, the Closing the Gap initiative is a partnership between MultiLit and schools in regional, remote, and very remote areas across Australia. Currently, 42 schools in New South Wales, Western Australia, South Australia, Queensland, and the Northern Territory are participating.

Pacific Gulgangali Jarjums joined Closing the Gap last year and started implementing MultiLit’s evidence-based programs, including the phonics-based InitiaLit program. This approach uses systematic synthetic phonics to teach children to decode words and improve their reading ability. Despite the early stages of the program, Ms. Allen has already noticed significant progress. “Students who previously struggled to engage with reading are now well on the way to becoming confident and fluent readers,” she said.

Ms. Allen has enjoyed traveling to different schools and hearing similar stories about students making significant progress. “It’s reassuring to see students gaining confidence and engagement, which will serve them well throughout their education,” she remarked.

MultiLit has a longstanding history of engagement with Indigenous students and educators, from work at Redfern Public School in NSW to collaborations with Indigenous leader Noel Pearson to bring MultiLit programs to students in Cape York.

Kevin Wheldall AM, Chairman of MultiLit, emphasized the importance of the Closing the Gap program. “Barriers to literacy can be overcome when schools and teachers are equipped with the right knowledge and tools to support all children to learn to read to the best of their ability,” Professor Wheldall said. “It is incredibly important that young people leave primary school having attained a standard of English literacy that enables them to access the curriculum in secondary school so they can build the necessary knowledge and skills they need for life.”

Chloe Allen’s dedication and leadership in education are helping pave the way for Indigenous students to achieve academic success, ensuring they have the skills and opportunities to become future leaders in their communities.

The National Indigenous Cultural Centre (NICC) is an Indigenous home.
We provide Indigenous products, music, art and news.
If you want Indigenous gifts and merchandise, bush tucker food at your next event or Indigenous entertainment at your next party, expo or conference, feel free to contact us!

Visit our page:
Tony Clemenger.
Chief Executive Officer.
Tel: 0419431649.
Level 1 397 Chapel Street South Yarra 3141.


Write a comment