An alliance of Victorian social advocacy groups has produced a plan to drive better student engagement, reduce school drop outs and turbocharge learning outcomes.
About 23% of young Victorians currently don’t finish high school, or an equivalent.
Young people facing disadvantage are most likely to drop out of school (see right), and early school leavers are then at greater risk of financial hardship, health problems, substance abuse and homelessness.
The report ‘Creating engaging schools for all children and young people’ identifies principles of good practice to ensure all Victorian children stay engaged at school.
The report identifies ten key components necessary to foster and support engaging school cultures:
Schools need to
1. Embrace diversity
2. Provide extra support to vulnerable kids
3. Better manage school transitions
4. Actively collaborate with families
5. Include every child, in every classroom
6. Focus on the ‘whole child’
7. Involve the local community.
Governments need to
8. Spend money where it’s needed
9. Share information on what works
10. Support schools to embrace change
Truly engaging schools “never give up” on their students, the report finds.
The report explores the community sector’s collaborative role in schools and highlights best practice initiatives at schools including Dandenong North Primary School, Thornbury Primary School, Whittington Primary School, Roxburgh College and Templestowe College.
The analysis was carried out by five key community sector organisations: the Victorian Council of Social Service, the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare, the Youth Affairs Council of Victoria, Early Learning Association Australia and the Hume Whittlesea Local Learning and Employment Network.
Attributable to VCOSS CEO Emma King
“Australian students are slipping behind kids in comparable countries. Part of this is due to student disengagement.”
“Schools should be warm and welcoming places where our kids want to spend their time. By creating more inclusive, responsive and engaging school communities, our children will be happier—and will do better academically.”
Attributable to CFECFW CEO Deb Tsorbaris
“Ensuring all children and young people have access to education and the support they need to complete their studies is the best investment we can make for their future.”
“Access to quality education from an early age is crucial to student development and in many instances to keeping them safer.”
Attributable to YACVIC Deputy CEO Leo Fieldgrass
“Students learn best when they have respectful, positive relationships with teachers, the opportunity to make real decisions about their education and the chance to contribute to the school and wider community.”
“For our students and communities to thrive, our schools must prioritise wellbeing support, especially for those students who face the biggest barriers to learning.”
Attributable to ELLA CEO Shane Lucas
“Victoria’s future prosperity is dependent on harnessing the potential in every child—this process commences in the early years which lays the foundations for a successful transition to school.”
“The successful transition from quality early childhood education to school is one which takes account of a child’s diverse needs and vulnerabilities, and which works together their families.”
Attributable to HWLLEN joint EOs Nicky Leitch & Kim Stadtmiller
“We believe this to be a solid report and will hopefully promote fruitful discussions and greater interest and implementation of tried and tested initiatives to enhance student engagement.”