Sue Bremner Scholarship 2016 awarded to Carmel Leahy

The Sue Bremner Scholarship, supporting a teacher to attend the ASFLA 2016 Conference in Sydney from 27–29 September has been awarded to an educator who has spent most of her 30-year teaching career in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.

Congratulations to the recipient: Carmel Leahy

2016 Scholarship winner Carmel LeahyCarmel has spent most of her 30-year teaching career in the Kimberley region of WA. After some years in Derby she was invited to help Yakanarra Community set up a school. While working here Carmel completed a Masters in Applied Linguistics where she first encountered Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL). Yakanarra School became a part of the pilot of the Scaffolding Literacy Project later renamed Accelerated Literacy. SFL underpins this approach. The project lifted student results dramatically. Carmel went on to become an Accelerated Literacy Consultant for six Kimberley Aboriginal Independent Community Schools. Carmel has returned to the classroom and currently works at Yiyili Aboriginal Community School.

Carmel Leahy’s application fulfilled the criteria for the Sue Bremner PETAA Scholarship 2016 in a number of ways. Carmel currently teaches Kriol speaking Aboriginal students in one of Australia’s lowest socio economic regions in a remote area of Australia, is a member of ASFLA and PETAA, and has worked with SFL and Brian Gray and Wendy Cowey’s scaffolding methodology, which is now Accelerated Literacy.

Carmel’s application cites Bernstein’s (1995:5) ‘neo-liberal government reform agendas’ and suggests that this has led to ‘a fragmentation of semiotic and pedagogic knowledge’ in the schools she is familiar with, and thus PETAA felt that many such schools would benefit from Carmel’s attendance at the 2016 ASFLA conference, which has as its theme Language as social power: 20th century beginnings, 21st century futures. Carmel closed her application by inviting the 2016 ASFLA community to join with her in developing ‘collectives to continue and redesign the transformative equity work of SFL’.

Yiyili Aboriginal Community School near Halls Creek in WA, is some six hours drive from the nearest airport. Following this long drive, Carmel will then take a 4.5 hour (direct) flight to Sydney. The PETAA Scholarship would seem to be a very welcome support for her to attend the 2016 ASFLA conference.

ASFLA confeence panel, linked to registrations