RE-ENGAGING STUDENTS IN EDUCATION - Youth Re-engaging students in education - Success factors in...

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  • RE-ENGAGING STUDENTS IN EDUCATIONSuccess Factors in Alternative Schools

    Martin MillsUniversity of Queensland

    Glenda McGregorGriffi th University

  • 2 Re-engaging students in education - Success factors in alternative schools

    ISBN: 978-0-646-53537-1

    SUBJECTS: EDUCATION; CHILD AND YOUTH STUDIES; SOCIAL SERVICES AND WELFARE

    REPORT ON A RESEARCH PROJECT CONDUCTED FOR THE YOUTH AFFAIRS NETWORK OF QUEENSLAND.

    Research Steering Committee:

    Ms Linda Llewellyn, Brisbane Catholic Education

    Dr Glenda McGregor, Griffith University

    Prof Martin Mills, University of Queensland

    Ms Frances Missen, Albert Park Flexible Learning Centre/Brisbane City Council

    Mr David Powell, Youth Affairs Network of Queensland

    Ms Maren Strachen, YWCA Brisbane

    Dr Sandra Taylor, Queensland University of Technology

    Ms Bernadette Wood, Brisbane Catholic Education

    RE-ENGAGING STUDENTS IN EDUCATIONSuccess Factors in Alternative SchoolsBy Martin Mills and Glenda McGregor, May 2010

    COPYRIGHT 2010 YOUTH AFFAIRS NETWORK QUEENSLAND INC.

    Some rights reserved. This document is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

    It can be shared under the conditions specified by this license at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.5/au/.

    All photos in this document were taken at the Moreton Bay Re-engagement Forum on 11 November, 2008, with the consent of participants.

    Youth Affairs Network of Queensland acknowledges funding support from the Office for Youth Department of Communities.

    Report layout and cover design byNiche Studio

  • Re-engaging students in education - Success factors in alternative schools 3

    Acknowlodgements ................... 04

    About the Youth Affairs Network of Queensland ............ 05

    Foreword ...................................... 06

    Executive Summary ................... 08

    Key Findings and Recommendations ...................... 09 Enrolment and Attendance .................... 09

    School Environment ................................ 10

    Curriculm ................................................... 10

    Pedagogy .................................................. 10

    Post-schooling Pathways .......................11

    Staffing .......................................................11

    Funding .......................................................11

    Introduction ................................. 12

    TABLE OF CONTENTS

    Factors Influencing Early School Leaving ........................... 14 Social and Economic Factors ................ 14

    Schooling Factors ................................... 15

    The Research Findings ..........17 Resourcing of the sites........................... 18

    Background of Staff ................................ 21

    Who Goes to Flexible Learning Schools/Centres? .................................... 23

    Why Do Young People Attend These Centres? ........................................ 26

    Limitations ................................................ 32

    Conclusion ...............................33

    References ...............................34

    Appendix 1: Details of the 5 Sites ..............35

  • 4 Re-engaging students in education - Success factors in alternative schools

    ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

    This research project would not have been possible without the support and dedication of a number of individuals and organisations.Firstly thanks must go to the young people at each of the five sites who shared their views, opinions and insights with us. Thanks also to the staff and volunteers at those sites for their openness and willingness to share their perspectives with us.

    YANQ also expresses its gratitude to the members of the steering committee who have guided the course of this research project from the beginning and contributed invaluable advice, wisdom and support. The members of the steering committee are:

    Albert Park Flexible Learning Centre

    Queensland (convenor)

    Technology

    Secondly, the research would not have been possible without the in-kind support from the following organisations:

    Learning Centre.

    University of Technology.

    Griffith University.

    YANQ also expresses thanks to Ms Rachel Martin, a LOTE teacher and post-graduate psychology student who volunteered her time to conduct interviews for the research.

    Thanks also to Ms Marilyn Topp, whose keen eye for grammar and punctuation was that important bit of spit and polish the report needed.

    Finally YANQ would also like to thank the Queensland Government Department of Communities for the funding it provides to YANQ and which assisted us to undertake this project.

  • Re-engaging students in education - Success factors in alternative schools 5

    The Youth Affairs Network of Queensland Inc. (YANQ) is the peak community youth affairs organisation in Queensland, representing individuals and organisations from Queenslands youth sector.

    We promote the interests and well being of young people across the state by:

    sector, and the broader community

    infl uential bodies

    youth sector

    We advocate on behalf of young people in Queensland, especially disadvantaged young people, to government and the community.

    We promote and support cultural diversity. We encourage the development of policies and programs that respond to the rights and needs of young people.

    YANQ employs a small team in its Brisbane based secretariat. The organisation is managed by a committee.

    ABOUT THE YOUTH AFFAIRS NETWORK OF QUEENSLAND

    Contact Details Telephone: 07 3844 7713

    Freecall: 1800 188 899 (free for callers outside the Brisbane metropolitan area)

    Facsimile: 07 3844 7731

    http://www.yanq.org.au

  • 6 Re-engaging students in education - Success factors in alternative schools

    Since that report, YANQ has continued to agitate for greater support for young people who are disengaged from schooling through a range of publications and research projects, such as the following:

    encourage discussion and debate about the ETRF process (2004).

    Education Laws in Queensland (2005 and 2006).

    nature of support that was available for young people (12 to 18) who were disengaged from education and work (2007).

    This last project highlighted the inconsistent (and in some cases non-existent) levels of support for young people who had become disengaged from education and were rarely, if ever, attending school. Based on this research YANQ made the decision to commit significant time and energy into improving our advocacy for young people marginalised from education and so the Re-engagement Project was born.

    The genesis of this report goes back at least to 2003 with the publication of a discussion paper entitled What are Schools for. In that report, the Youth Affairs Network of Queensland Inc (YANQ) welcomed the Beattie Governments plans to fund community organisations to employ youth workers in schools around Queensland. In the same report however we also called for greater support for young people who were marginalised from education and not attending schools (and therefore unable to benefit from the support of youth workers in schools).

    1. Further details are available at www.yanq.org.au/reengage.

    FOREWORD

  • Re-engaging students in education - Success factors in alternative schools 7

    Foreword (cont.)The Re-engagement Project has had 3 ambitious goals:

    to young Queenslanders i.e. services that supported young people to re-engage with meaningful learning of some form.

    within the youth sector, governments and the community about disengagement and the types of re-engagement services that can work in different communities.

    successful re-engagement services.

    The first goal was achieved to some extent by conducting a Census of Re-engagement Services in Queensland - the results of which are available on YANQs website at www.yanq.org.au/reengage/2173-census.

    The second goal was achieved through the publication of a special Re-engagement edition of new Transitions (see www.yanq.org.au/reengage/nt2008) featuring 23 articles by youth workers, young people, academics and program coordinators. To encourage discussion in the youth and education sectors YANQ also worked with a range of partners to hold forums and seminars in Moreton Bay and Townsville in 2008 and in North Brisbane in February 2010.

    This research report then is the beginning of YANQs attempt to achieve the 3rd goal.

    The impetus for the research came from the talented group of youth workers, educators and academics who, at YANQs invitation, formed a steering committee to help us investigate successful models of re-engagement for young people.

    It wasnt long, perhaps one or two meetings of the committee, before the topic of flexi or alternative schools was raised and suggestions were made to investigate these in more detail.

    In those early meetings it became clear through the stories we heard and the research reports we read that for many young people who have become disengaged from mainstream schooling, flexi schools offer a viable alternative. Indeed as you will read in the report many young people expend significant efforts to attend these schools when (on the surface at least) it might seem easier for them to enrol at their nearest State High School.

    With this in mind and after much discussion the steering committee agreed to work together to investigate what it was exactly that attracted young people to these so-called alternative schools what are the factors that enable these schools to support and engage young people who would otherwise remain disenga