Abstract: This paper examines the nature of educational and employment outcomes for Aboriginal people in very remote Northern Territory. In particular, the differences between those(according to Australian Bureau of Statistics definitions) who speak a local language at home and those who speak English are considered. The analysis is based on a review of 2011 Census data The purpose of the analysis is to assess the impact of cultural alignments on participation in mainstream economies that exist in very remote parts of the Territory. It also questions to what extent the demands of industries are aligned to higher level schooling and post-school qualifications. Does education open the doors we expect it to? The findings add to qualitative and quantitative analysis already undertaken as part of the Cooperative Research Centre for Remote Economic Participation’s Remote Education Systems (RES) project. They shed light on the use of constructs such as ‘Indigenous disadvantage’ and policy initiatives designed to close ‘gaps’. At the end of the presentation, a number of alternative strategic and experimental models will be outlined that emerge in response to the challenges arising from these and other findings from the RES project. The intention of these models is to promote alternative approaches to education policy and practice, particularly for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from very remote communities.