These reports give us greater insight into why some students succeed and why some ‘fail’, and their implications should be given greater consideration by governments and policy makers.
Those who miss out
The report Educational Opportunity in Australia 2015 - Who Succeeds and who Misses Out looked at students at four key milestones – readiness for school, succeeding in the middle years, completing school by age 19, engaging in education, training or work at age 24. The results of this report show that while most young people are succeeding, a significant and worrying proportion are missing out at these milestones.
The middle years a concern
The Australian Child Wellbeing Project was conducted by researchers at Flinders University, the University of NSW and the Australian Council for Educational Research and its report Are The Kids Alright? Young Australians in their Middle Years was released early this year. While most young people in their middle years are doing well, a significant proportion have low wellbeing and are missing out on opportunities. Marginalised students are more likely to report lower levels of wellbeing, including high levels of health complaints, experience of bullying, low levels of engagement at school, low levels of subjective wellbeing and low levels of social support. One in five (19%) in the survey reported going hungry to school or bed. These young people were more likely to miss school frequently.
Unprepared for the first year of schooling
The Australian Early Development Census (AECD) is a nationwide measure that looks at how young people have developed by the time they start their first year of full time school. The report released this year on the 2015 results shows that one in five children (20%) were developmentally vulnerable in one or more of five domains, that is in language and cognitive skills, communication skills and general knowledge, physical health and wellbeing, or social competence and emotional maturity. Students from disadvantaged communities have a 33% chance of being developmentally vulnerable, while those with the least disadvantage had a 16% chance.
In respect to other groupings: 28% of boys are considered developmentally vulnerable compared to 15% of girls, and 42% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students are in this group. The study shows that from 2012 to 2015 there was some decrease in the vulnerability of children in two of the domains, language and cognitive skills (by 2.4%), and communication and general knowledge (by 1.2%); but an increase in vulnerability in physical health and wellbeing (by .4%) and social competence (by .5%)