Why local staff matter In very remote schools

Why local staff matter In very remote schools Conference Paper

AARE 2015: Coast to coast: locations and directions in educational research

  • Author(s): Guenther, John, Disbray, Samantha
  • Published: 2015

Abstract: A lot of research in Australian schools, has focused on the important role that teachers play in educating students. Conversely, in the discourse about remote schools for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, the quality of teaching and teachers is often blamed for the relatively low academic outcomes students in remote community schools achieve. The remote teaching workforce is relatively young, inexperienced and staff turnover is relatively high. But what about the role that ancillary staff play in remote schools? Research from the Cooperative Research Centre for Remote Economic Participation’s Remote Education Systems (RES) project shows that ancillary staff including but not only assistant teachers (‘non-teaching staff’ on the My School website) play a vital role in facilitating children’s learning and mediating community and local cultural knowledge to teachers. The research also shows that they also act as a conduit for knowledge from the mainly non-local teachers to parents and the broader community. Beyond this, quantitative analysis of data from very remote schools with more than 80 per cent Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander students suggests that higher non-teacher to teacher ratios are associated with higher levels of attendance. Further, the analysis shows that higher proportions of non-teaching staff are associated with higher NAPLAN reading and numeracy scores, particularly for years 3 and 5. The paper offers some explanations for why this may be the case. Based on qualitative findings from the RES project it also suggests some workforce development responses that could further enhance a broader range of outcomes (beyond NAPLAN scores) for very remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

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Suggested Citation
Guenther, John, Disbray, Samantha, 2015, Why local staff matter In very remote schools, Conference Paper, viewed 16 July 2024, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=10749.

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