Lowood State School principal Wendy Deverell with students Ricky Finger, Anunta Kongpreephan-Smith, Evelyn Denman and Eden Chapman.
Lowood State School principal Wendy Deverell with students Ricky Finger, Anunta Kongpreephan-Smith, Evelyn Denman and Eden Chapman. Rob Williams

How struggling school completed total transformation

THERE is no one that hates the term 'Slowood' more than Wendy Deverell.

The Lowood State School principal is approaching four years at the school after arriving as deputy to support former headmaster Jordan Burke in turning the school around.

Ms Deverell took over the top job two years ago and said the school's upward trajectory since she arrived had well and truly left that moniker in the dirt.

Lowood was the most improved primary school in the Ipswich region for its NAPLAN results this year and only finished behind Aurukun State School as the top improver in Queensland.

Last year, Lowood State School was the most improved school in the state.

The school also won the award for excellence in the early and primary years in the 2019 Showcase Awards for Excellence in Schools.

Ms Deverell said the the transformation had gone beyond just trying to improve academic results but imposing an entire cultural shift.

"When I first came, the feeling in the school was agitated and that would be the word that would sum up the school," she said.

"The transformation is very prominent and very obvious. It has gone from a culture of students believing that they can't do... to actually they can.

"If given the right opportunity and the right environment to thrive, students will step up and that's putting high expectations in place.

"We've seen that massive shift to the whole school being about the learning and not about behaviour."

She said suspension rates are "almost non-existent" and an "unrelenting focus" had been put on improving students' foundation literacy skills to drive results upwards.

"Our focus was on delivering a very rigorous and engaging curriculum that meets the needs of all of our students regardless of what academic level they're operating at," she said.

"It has been the strongest contributor to successful outcomes."

Ms Deverell, who oversees 297 students for the 2019 school year, said the turnaround had brought renewed pride to the town and she hoped it would bury 'Slowood' for good.

"I hate that (term)," she laughed.

"The tone of the school has completely changed, it's very calm and it's very driven. You can hear the passion in not only the staff but the students and we have an incredible parent base that is really committed to school improvement.

"It's about driving the culture outside of the school gates as well."

"It's a lot of positive talk. Rather than being excuse driven, it's 'where to next'.

"We just have this persona now to be confident, walk tall, be proud of who you are and that spreads across the community. It's not just the school, the school is a hub but that has to fed out to the community and that's where you get that change."



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