The Cape York Aboriginal Australian Academy three years on: What is the evidence? What does it indicate?

The Cape York Aboriginal Australian Academy three years on: What is the evidence? What does it indicate? Conference Paper

AARE-APERA 2012: Regional and global cooperation in educational research

  • Author(s): McCollow, John
  • Published: 2012
  • Publisher: Australian Association for Research in Education and Asia Pacific Educational Research Association

Abstract: The Cape York Aboriginal Australian Academy began operation as part of the government schooling system at two campuses in remote Aboriginal communities in Cape York (Coen and Aurukun) in 2010 as a three-year "pilot". In 2011, the Academy expanded its operations to the Hopevale Aboriginal community. The proposal for the Academy was developed by Cape York Partnerships (CYP), an organisation headed by Noel Pearson, a prominent Aboriginal activist. The Academy incorporates activities across three overlapping "domains": Class - the formal schooling component; Culture - Indigenous and non-Indigenous cultural knowledge; and Club - sporting, cultural, music and physical education activities. The Academy operates over an extended school day. It makes use of the controversial instructional strategy known as Direct Instruction. Unlike other public schools in Queensland the Academy has a "board" that oversees its operation. Implementation of the Academy pilot has been marked by a number of problems but also apparent successes. This year (2012) is notionally the final year of the Academy pilot. Additionally, significant funding to support the pilot was drawn from the Low SES Schools National Partnerships Program, which is due to conclude at the end of the 2012-13 financial year. It is therefore timely to consider what the evidence to date shows about the efficacy of this reform. While a framework for rigorously evaluating the Academy trial has been developed, there have been delays in implementing the evaluation process. It is possible, but unlikely, that some preliminary data will be available from the formal evaluation to inform this paper. The paper draws on the following sources: - Data provided by the Academy, CYP and the Queensland Department of Education, Training and Employment; - Literature reviews relating to Direct Instruction and Indigenous school reform; - Personal observations at the Academy in 2010 and 2011; - Meetings/interviews/discussions with staff at the Academy, DETE and CYP. A significant problem is expected to be the failure to complete the planned formal evaluation within the timelines of the three-year pilot. That said, it is possible to draw some tentative conclusions from the available evidence, which indicates: Literacy, numeracy, behaviour and perhaps attendance have improved; - Disputation about the efficacy of Direct Instruction is not likely to be resolved based on student performance data relating to the above areas; - Sorting through the relative contributions of other factors (e.g. additional funding, a high expectations approach, small classes) will be difficult; - Assessment of the Academy is likely to be coloured by one's position on Noel Pearson's wider Indigenous social policy agenda. In short, debate about the degree to which the Academy provides a model for Indigenous schooling reform will be ongoing

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McCollow, John, 2012, The Cape York Aboriginal Australian Academy three years on: What is the evidence? What does it indicate?, Conference Paper, viewed 13 June 2024,

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