Successful Indigenous student transition to secondary education

Tuesday, 21 March 2017
Jacob Prehn
Huw Peacock

Transition from primary to secondary schooling is one of the major transitions of students’ lives. This transition can be especially difficult for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. For our children the move to secondary schooling frequently means a change to a larger school, further from home, in some cases a boarding school and to a school where the Western schooling environment is dominant. Secondary school transition can also frequently mean separation from early school kin friendship groups. This presentation uses data from the ‘Kid’ cohort (11/12 years old and in their last year of primary school) of the Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children (LSIC) to explore how children and their families are negotiating this transition. The results indicate that in line with the mainstream literature that posits parental engagement as a critical factor in successful transition, around three quarters of the ‘Kid’ cohort’s primary parents have actively investigated which school in which location their child should attend. This paper also explores the factors important for parents in selecting one school over another for their child, in particular, how kin relations and the perceived cultural alignment of the school feature in parent’s choices.