Byabarra & Parklea Public Schools

Exploring different lifestyles

Students at a single teacher school on the NSW North Coast exchange with students at a large urban Sydney school.

The cultural exchange program involving Byabarra and Parklea Public Schools has been in operation for several years. The aim of the program is to assist students to explore the many lifestyles that make up contemporary Australia and to come to appreciate Australian cultural diversity.

About Parklea Public School

  • The school was established in 1919 and then relocated and rebuilt in 1996.
  • It is located in metropolitan western Sydney in a new housing estate.
  • It has a student population of about 630 students.
  • 45% of the students come from language backgrounds other than English and 54 languages are spoken.
  • Staff include a Principal, Deputy Principal, 4 Assistant Principals, 29 teachers and several administrative officers.
  • There are 25 classes in permanent and demountable buildings.

About Byabarra Public School

  • The school was established 1895.
  • It is a rural school located on the NSW north coast, 26km west of Wauchope.
  •  It has a student population of 19 students.
  • Most students at the school come from English speaking backgrounds.
  • Staff include one permanent teaching Principal, a part time relief teacher, and one part time administrative officer.
  • There is one class (K-6) in one classroom.

About the program

Even though our schools are different, we may not be as different as we think. – Year 6 student, Byabarra Public School


As our students are from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds and have little knowledge of non-suburban living, we wanted to expand their experiences through contact with students living in rural areas and who attend a small school. – Parklea PS

All of our students are from the same kind of background and we wanted them to correspond with, and meet, children from different backgrounds who attend an urban school. – Byabarra PS

Curriculum outcomes:

  • English (writing)
  •  ICT (internet and multimedia)
  • Human Society and Its Environment (knowledge and understanding of cultures).   


Students began by participating in a Through My Window activity. This was adapted from the ‘Glyn to Gulgong’ project which allows students in Wales and NSW to communicate about their world through words and pictures. Students took digital photos, described what they saw and emailed the descriptions and pictures to each others’ schools.

The next activity involved students writing to each other as pen pals. Years 3 -6 students from Byabarra wrote letters to a composite 4/5/6 class and a Year 3 class at Parklea. Regular school newsletters were exchanged between the schools as were photos or descriptions of extra–curricula activities.

A number of inter-school visits were incorporated in the exchange program.

In 2006, seven Year 6 students and the Principal from Byabarra visited Parklea. Activities included:

  • meeting pen pals from 4/5/6G and 3P
  • touring the school
  • being introduced to Parklea students at an assembly
  • a visit to Sydney city via the Rivercat from Parramatta
  • a number of evening activities including a ferry ride to Darling Harbour and dinner at Chinatown
  • attendance at the first Student Partnerships Conference to host a joint display of the schools’ cultural exchange program.

In 2007, two Year 6 students and an ESL teacher from Parklea visited Byabarra. Activities included:

  • Years 5 and 6 students and the Principal and School Secretary from Byabarra visiting Parklea students and their teacher who were staying in Port Macquarie. Together, students played on the beach before going to dinner in Port Macquarie and visiting the observatory.
  • Parklea students and teacher spending a day in class at Byabarra Public School and visiting Timbertown at Wauchope.
  • Parklea students enjoying a rural experience at the farm of a Byabarra parent.
  • Students and teachers from both schools attending the second Student Partnerships Conference to conduct a workshop about the schools’ cultural exchange program. Year 6 Byabarra students and their Principal and four Parklea students and their two ESL teachers were involved.

In 2008, the schools plan to:

  • continue the newsletter exchange
  • continue the pen pal letters with four classes at Parklea Public (a K/1, 3/4 and 5/6 and a Year 2 class) writing letters to the Byabarra students
  • meet for an inter-school visit in which the whole of Byabarra Public School student population, together with the Principal and 6 parents visit Parklea for three days to experience schooling in a large, urban school. Students will participate in classes with their pen pals and both schools will perform a cultural item at assembly.