Practices of alternative schools in Queensland in supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people to remain engaged in education

Shay, Marnee (2013) Practices of alternative schools in Queensland in supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people to remain engaged in education. Masters by Research thesis, University of the Sunshine Coast.

Abstract

Alternative schools are an emerging model of education offered to young people who have been disenfranchised from conventional schooling opportunities. The body of literature on alternative schools in Australia has not identified how many Indigenous young people are engaged with alternative schools and how alternative schools are supporting Indigenous young people to remain engaged in education. It is well documented that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience significant disadvantage including poorer educational outcomes than their non-Indigenous peers. This study seeks to contribute to improving educational outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people through exploring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander interactions with alternative schools in Queensland and investigating the practices of alternative school leaders in terms of how they are supporting Indigenous young people to remain engaged in education.

Critical race theory informed the development of this study. An Aboriginal researcher sought to shift the focus of this study away from Indigenous young people to Principals; to explore their perspective of their own knowledge and practices in supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people at their school. Using survey methodology, a web-based questionnaire was developed to survey Principals’ providing data on alternative schools in Queensland including the demographics of the alternative school; self-reported knowledge of Indigenous cultures and communities and practices that support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people at their alternative school.

There are nine key findings that emerged through the analysis of this study: key finding one is the high percentage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people enrolled in schools surveyed; key finding two is there is a high percentage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff employed in the schools; key finding three is the majority of the schools are located in low socio-economic areas; key finding four is the strong willingness of Principals’ in this study to engage in self-directed learning in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; key finding five is the limited demonstration of understandings of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and communities; key finding six is the most prevalent practice of Principals’ in this study is the celebration of cultural events and cultural activities; key finding seven is the limited Principal engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people, their families and the local community; key finding eight is the practice of alternative schools provides limited support and nurturing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young person’s cultural identity and key finding nine is that Principals’ are relying heavily on informal discussions with staff to know what their staff’s knowledge and skills are in relation to supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people.

There are multiple implications that have arisen from this study. The data demonstrated high numbers of Aboriginal and Torre Strait Islander students and staff. The data also revealed that Principal’s demonstration of knowledge in relation to Indigenous cultures and communities was limited, as well as limited Principal engagement with Indigenous young peoples, families and communities. Therefore a major practical implication of this study is the urgent need for quality cultural learning opportunities for leaders of alternative schools to improve practices. Additionally, the implications of this study support an urgent need for further research on the role alternative schools are playing in supporting Indigenous young people to remain engaged in education.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 71023
Item Type: Thesis (Masters by Research)
Refereed: No
Keywords: Aboriginal, Alternative Schools, Cultural leadership, Critical race theory, First peoples, Flexi Schools, Indigenous, Learning Choices, Torres Strait Islander
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Cultural & Professional Learning
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Institution: University of the Sunshine Coast
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2013 The Author
Deposited On: 06 May 2014 00:51
Last Modified: 06 May 2014 00:51

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