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Western Australian Institute for Educational Research

27th Annual Research Forum: Transforming practice: The value of educational research
University of Notre Dame, 1.00 pm to 6.00 pm, Saturday 11 August

Keynote presenter


Photo: Gary Partington
Gary Partington

Closing the gap for Aboriginal students: Lessons from research

Gary Partington
Honorary Professor
School of Education, Edith Cowan University

Governments across Australia are cooperating in their efforts to improve outcomes for Indigenous students and so succeed in the Closing the Gap strategy. Through programs such as Dare to Lead and What Works as well as numerous school-specific strategies, schools and teachers are endeavouring to implement changes to the way they work with Indigenous students to achieve success. Yet success is elusive. The gap remains and Indigenous students' performance is not improving enough to claim success.

Research conducted by a team of researchers at ECU has shown that improvement in student outcomes can be achieved. The results of two programs that have been tracked in longitudinal studies demonstrate that a combination of factors can bring about student improvement not just in achievement but also in attendance and social-emotional wellbeing. The studies were the Follow the Dream/Partnerships for Success program and the Happy Kids program. In this presentation Gary Partington will describe the research projects, outline the characteristics of these programs that have quite different students as their target, and indicate how they have brought about improvements. Implications for government policy will be considered, along with an examination of the feasibility of implementing the programs in schools.


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