CU in Kangaroo Island

The Kangaroo Island community is serviced by three DECD school campuses at Kingscote, Parndana and Penneshaw, jointly known as Kangaroo Island Community Education (KICE). Towards the end of 2019 plans were made to launch CU across all KICE campuses, with the program being led by year 5 teacher Eliza Shalley who had previously been involved with the CU program at a school in the northern suburbs of Adelaide: ‘I saw the connections the students made with extra-curricular learning and knew the self-managed learning style would fit at KICE’.

Over the summer of 2019/2020 Kangaroo Island (KI) was devastated by bush fires, having an enormous impact on the community. The decision was taken that the beginning of the year was not an appropriate time to introduce CU as planned, and the launch was delayed until the second part of the year, and a CU subsidised membership fee of $5 was offered to KICE members.

In March 2020 the local response to the COVID-19 pandemic involved restricting travel to KI to essential travel only until late June. Discussions with Eliza and the KICE leadership team following the easing of travel restrictions made it clear that the community was keen to start CU as soon as possible.

At the beginning of August 2020, CU was launched to students and parents at all three KICE campuses and 132 students signed up as CU members. 11 local Learning Destinations (LDs) also became part of the program offering activities not only to the local members but also any CU members visiting the island. Four of these LDs have subsequently developed activities that can be accessed through CU Online for members throughout the CU network, regardless of their location.

In the September 2020 school holidays, CU school holiday programs were offered to KICE members. In partnership with the Open Music Academy at the University of Adelaide, 13 CU members and eight parents attended a music workshop and a further eight members and five parents took part in activities at LDs in Kingscote and Penneshaw.

According to Eliza, some students have included volunteer hours from the island’s fire recovery in their CU hours and been able to see this recognised as meaningful learning, where others have used the program to suit their own learning style – gaining hours from regular activities such as sport, or gaining hours from a range of activities in small chunks.

It had been hoped that KICE CU members would graduate at the town hall in Kingscote but, due to continuing COVID restrictions, alternative arrangements had to be made as with all graduation celebrations across CU Adelaide. Certificates and graduation gifts were presented to 65 graduating students across each of the three campuses to members achieving a minimum of 30 hours of CU learning, with several achieving gold awards for 100 hours. 

The self-esteem building has been great to watch and parents have said that CU has been a light in a tough year’ Eliza Shalley.

In March 2021, CU was relaunched to KICE students and 89 members became involved. In the April school holidays programs were held at Kingscote campus and, in partnership with KI Council, at Kingscote Library where Alys Jackson, a local author and CU LD launched her new picture book ‘Hugo’s Runaway Legs’.

During this period, two KICE CU members assisted in writing and presenting a CU information video showcasing CU on KI and assisting members with accessing activities offered on the new CU Portal.