Our best-practice Year 9 Kakadu Program has been shortlisted for the Australian Education Awards 2023 – Innovation in Curriculum Design. 

Caulfield Grammar School’s unique Year 9 Kakadu Program gives Year 9 students the opportunity to experience 24 days of residential living and learning at Jabiru on the edge of Kakadu National Park. 

Providing students with innovative experiential learning programs has always been a key focus at our School. The development and delivery of this program in 2022, while overcoming the logistical challenges posed by COVID, demonstrated the great commitment and passion of our educators and School leadership team. 

This world-class learning experience involves students living on-country with Traditional Owners. In the remote wilderness, with guidance from elders and teachers and other educational tools, Year 9 students learn to expand their views of themselves and their country in a profound, self-reflective way.  

The program impacts student learning in areas few others can. They experience the contrast between ancient and modern approaches to land usage, ownership, governance and restoration. They explore the stories, culture, histories and peoples within three distinct NT communities. The program unfolds through five phases, so students increasingly take responsibility for their own learning, resulting in a lasting impact.  

Partnering with local Kakadu organisations including Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation, Jabiru Area School, Djurrubu Rangers and the Northern Territory Government, we have recognised the importance of developing close working relationships to build strong links with the community and help deliver an authentic learning program that encourages both our students and the Jabiru community to thrive together. An opportunity was also developed for First Nations students to visit Caulfield Grammar campuses in Melbourne, extending the program’s benefit beyond our own students. This ongoing partnership has created a positive impact with the Jabiru community and within our School, something we are proud of. 

Our educators based in Jaburu receive ongoing professional development training and mentoring, as well as regular check-ins to ensure everyone is comfortable with changes and evolutions and that they are best supported to ensure the program’s success. 

Our program staff includes six ‘Year 13’ trainees – Caulfield Grammar students who graduated the previous year and complete a traineeship while on staff. These traineeships are a key feature of our program and are valued by both staff and students for the care and support they provide, and the on-the-job work experience gained. For Year 9 students, our trainees are relatable mentors.  

The Year 9 Kakadu Program embodies the essence of curriculum innovation. Along with a profound effect on each student’s sense of self and their engagement with Indigenous and remote Australia, we are confident the positive impact of this program, both within our community and beyond, will be felt throughout their lives.