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Indigenous Students

Overview

In March 2008, the government established the Division of Indigenous Education, Training and the Arts to ensure a more integrated approach across portfolios within the department.

This centrally located division delivered greater synergy among training, arts and education, and defined a single accountability point across the department for Indigenous policy.

The Indigenous Learning and Arts Strategic Plan 2008-2011 outlined the department's responsibilities and priority areas across training, education and the arts. The plan built on past successes and seeks new ways to work with Indigenous partners and stakeholders.

During 2008-09, the department continued to address the substantial gaps between the outcomes of Indigenous and non-Indigenous students through:

  • Partners for Success, the policy framework by which the department measures its performance
  • the delivery of pre-Prep across 35 discrete Indigenous communities in predominantly rural and remote localities
  • Bound for Success, a strategy under Partners for Success, which targets the outcomes of Indigenous students in the Torres Strait Islands and Cape York
  • the development and implementation of Foundations for Success: Guidelines for an Early Learning Program in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Communities and the Embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Perspectives in Schools framework
  • the four-year Indigenous Education Support Structures pilot program, which gives Indigenous students direct literacy, numeracy and other learning support.

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Closing the gap nationally

Two priamary school students (one indigenous, one non-indigenous) writing  together on a project.

The department is working to achieve the targets set out in the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agenda for closing the gap (new window) Adobe PDF document between outcomes for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

Through the Closing the Gap Education Strategy, the department aims to close this gap. The strategy has three key targets:

  • halving the gap in Year 3 reading and numeracy by 2012
  • closing the gap in student attendance by 2013
  • closing the gap in Year 12 retention by 2013.

The Closing the Gap Education Strategy will replace Partners for Success as the overarching departmental strategy on Indigenous education in Queensland.

For further information on the national agenda, see Engaging with others - Engaging with the Australian Government

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Indigenous attendance figures

A father walking a young child to school on Stradbroke Island.

In 2008, more than 44 650 Indigenous students attended Queensland schools full time, making up 6.3 per cent of Queensland's total full-time student population.

During this time, more than 38 480 Indigenous students were enrolled in state schools, of which:

  • 44 per cent attended in metropolitan areas
  • 13 per cent attended in provincial cities
  • 24 per cent attended in rural areas
  • 19 per cent attended in remote areas.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics publication, Schools Australia, Queensland had the largest share of Indigenous enrolments of all the states and territories in 2008.

From 2005 to 2008, the percentage of full-time Indigenous students enrolled in Queensland schools increased by 17.6 per cent, compared with the national figure of 12.3 per cent.

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Partners for Success

Since 2000 Partners for Success has been the major policy framework informing Indigenous education. Its attendance, retention, achievement and workforce capacity outcomes align with the new direction set under the COAG agenda for closing the gap in Indigenous outcomes.

While Partners for Success is the policy framework by which the department measures its performance, the Indigenous Education Strategic Directions 2008-2011 plan is the strategic planning framework that identifies the focus and priority areas for the four-year period.

The plan builds on the department's strategic plan, and is intended as a high level document to guide activity and performance within the department. It helps the department deliver the outcomes outlined in Partners for Success.

The priority outcome areas of Partners for Success provide the basis for measuring the department's performance. The aim is to achieve measurable improvement in attendance, achievement, retention and workforce capacity.

In terms of progress in achieving these outcomes, data generally shows that substantial gaps still exist between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students.

The department's Closing the Gap Education Strategy (new window) Adobe PDF document will replace Partners for Success as the overarching departmental strategy on Indigenous education in Queensland. This strategy builds on the strengths of Partners for Success and sets the direction for Queensland to achieve the targets set out in the COAG agenda. The strategy's service lines are:

  • foundation learning with a focus on literacy and numeracy
  • health and physical activity as a precondition for learning
  • participation to employment
  • culture and enterprise.

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Bound for Success

An indigenous primary school boy sitting in a classroom doing an art project.

Bound for Success is an exciting strategy under Partners for Success that targets the outcomes of Indigenous students in the Torres Strait Islands and Cape York.

Bound for Success: Education Strategy for Cape York and Bound for Success: Education Strategy for Torres Strait Island both acknowledge the specific challenges that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people living in remote areas face in accessing education and achieving academic success.

This initiative's key achievements include:

  • conducting Torres Strait Regional Education Roundtables in November 2008 and June 2009
  • continuing to enhance pre-Prep services in Cape York and Torres Strait Island communities
  • launching the Foundations for Success: Guidelines for an Early Learning Program in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities
  • appointing professional support teachers to mentor pre-Prep staff as they implement Foundation for Success
  • continuing to provide transition support services to Indigenous students from Cape York and Torres Strait Islands who leave their home communities to complete secondary schooling
  • developing a Service Guarantee initiative that ensures that all Cape York and Torres Strait secondary school students on graduation achieve at least one of the following:
    • receive an OP score
    • complete a school-based apprenticeship or traineeship
    • be on a clearly articulated vocational education and training pathway
    • gain employment.

Bound for Success also includes pre-Prep.

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Indigenous student literacy and numeracy performance

All students must develop a strong foundation in literacy and numeracy to ensure their progress in all future learning.

Throughout Australia, students who are Indigenous, from low income families and living in remote parts of Australia are overrepresented in the group of students who fail to reach acceptable achievement standards in literacy, numeracy and science by the end of primary school.

For some Indigenous students, English is a second or even third language. Some students use English only at school, which makes the challenge of lifting literacy and numeracy outcomes for these students even more complex.

In the NAPLAN 2008 tests, Queensland Indigenous students statistically outperformed Indigenous students in the Northern Territory and Western Australia on average scores in all years and test domains, except Year 3 numeracy.

A similar pattern occurred for the proportion of students achieving the national minimum standard (NMS), where Queensland Indigenous students outperformed the Northern Territory and Western Australia in:

  • Year 3 - reading, spelling, and grammar and punctuation
  • Year 5 - all domains
  • Year 7 - all domains
  • Year 9 - writing, spelling, and grammar and punctuation.

Statistically, the scores of Queensland Indigenous students were similar to the national Indigenous average in all years and test domains except in Year 7 spelling, where Queensland Indigenous students outperformed the national average, and in Year 3 numeracy, where Queensland Indigenous students performed lower than the national average. No statistical differences occurred between the Queensland and national proportion of students achieving the NMS.

The gap between the results of Queensland Indigenous students and Queensland students as a whole, in which Indigenous students trailed the whole of Queensland performance, was evident in all year levels for both mean scale scores and the proportion of students at or above the NMS on all test domains.

Figures 8 to 12 show the percentage of Queensland Indigenous students from Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 at or above the NMS in reading, writing, spelling, grammar and punctuation, and numeracy compared with all Queensland students tested.

click on the graph to enlarge Click on the graphs to enlarge

Figure 8: Percentage of Queensland Indigenous students at or above national minimum standard compared with all Queensland students in reading, 2008

  • Percentage of Queensland Indigenous students at or above national minimum standard compared with all Queensland students in reading, 2008 [KPI]
 

Figure 9: Percentage of Queensland Indigenous students at or above national minimum standard compared with all Queensland students in writing, 2008

  • Percentage of Queensland Indigenous students at or above national minimum standard compared with all Queensland students in writing, 2008 [KPI]
 

Figure 10: Percentage of Queensland Indigenous students at or above national minimum standard compared with all Queensland students in spelling, 2008

  • Percentage of Queensland Indigenous students at or above national minimum standard compared with all Queensland students in spelling, 2008 [KPI]
 

Figure 11: Percentage of Queensland Indigenous students at or above national minimum standard compared with all Queensland students in grammar and punctuation, 2008

  • Figure 11: Percentage of Queensland Indigenous students at or above national minimum standard compared with all Queensland students in grammar and punctuation, 2008 [KPI]
 

Figure 12: Percentage of Queensland Indigenous students at or above national minimum standard compared with all Queensland students in numeracy, 2008

  • Percentage of Queensland Indigenous students at or above national minimum standard compared with all Queensland students in numeracy, 2008 [KPI]
 

Source: Data is drawn from National Assessment Program - Literacy and Numeracy Stage II data.

Notes:

  1. NMS is the national minimum standard.
  2. The 95 per cent confidence intervals are shown for the percentage of students at or above the NMS.
  3. The 95 per cent confidence intervals provide a statistical band of reliability within which the true result is estimated to lie.

For further information and analysis of the NAPLAN 2008 test, see the National report: achievement in reading, writing, language conventions and numeracy 2008 (new window) Adobe PDF document External Link , which the education ministers released on 19 December 2008.

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Building foundations for learning - pre-Prep

A primary school boy in a checked blue uniform, holding hands with someone out of picture, walking to school.

The department is building foundations to support learning and prepare young Indigenous children for school. The pre-Prep program gives young Indigenous children an extra year of education, giving them a head start in lifelong learning.

In 2008-09, the department invested $20.7 million in the third year of the $47.5 million, four-year program to improve the quality and consistency of pre-Prep education programs and facilities.

Pre-Prep will be delivered across 35 discrete Indigenous communities in predominantly rural and remote localities.

This investment has resulted in:

  • the development and implementation of Foundations for Success: Guidelines for an Early Learning Program in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Communities
  • the employment of 3.5 full-time equivalent, pre-Prep professional support teachers to support the release of the guidelines during 2008 and 2009
  • the completion of pre-Prep capital works at Cherbourg, Horn Island and Yarrabah
  • the provision of grants to state schools and other service providers of pre-Prep for curriculum resources, furniture and technology.

In 2008, more than 500 children participated in pre-Prep at state schools across 35 communities. Children also accessed pre-Prep programs through child care and community kindergartens in five communities, and at a non-state school in one community.

The department will invest $20 million in 2009-10 (the final year of the four-year pre-Prep implementation).

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Pre-Prep - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities

Under the department's Foundations for Success: Guidelines for an Early Learning Program in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Communities, pre-Prep is a part-time, targeted education program for children aged 3 to 4 who live across 35 discrete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Pre-Prep builds children's early language skills, improves family participation in early learning and enables smoother transitions into the school setting.

Throughout the program, pre-Prep teachers report improvements in children's:

  • knowledge and skills
  • ability to participate in activities
  • readiness for school.

Other benefits of the program include:

  • pre-Prep staff's improved planning capabilities
  • a wider range of activities for the children
  • an increased use of spoken language
  • more consistent routines and transitions.

These advances to the pre-Prep program are part of a $16 million, four-year commitment by the department.

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Embedding Indigenous Perspectives in Schools framework

To cater for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in Queensland schools, the school workforce must have appropriate cross-cultural skills, knowledge and understandings.

Including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives in school practices gives all students a greater understanding of the histories, cultures, values, beliefs, languages, lifestyles and roles of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The Embedding Indigenous Perspectives in Schools framework offers educational administrators and teachers the strategies to embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives across all areas of school practice, giving all students access to a balanced educational curriculum.

In 2008-09, staff across the state were offered 11 professional development workshops. Through these workshops, educators and administrators were given strategies to include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives into:

  • personal and professional accountabilities
  • curriculum and pedagogy
  • organisational environment
  • community partnerships.

Feedback from the workshops was positive. Participants reported that the strategies and tools provided were very practical, particularly in the areas of planning and teaching and increasing cultural competence.

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Indigenous Education Support Structures pilot

In 2008-09, the department invested $2.5 million in the second year of its $10 million Indigenous Education Support Structures pilot program.

This program gives Indigenous students direct literacy, numeracy and other learning support, and provides in-class professional development to help teachers more effectively engage with Indigenous learners.

The department rolled out the pilot to school cluster sites in Mount Isa, Cairns, Charleville, Cunnamulla, Rockhampton and Ipswich.

As a key part of the pilot, 10 professional support teachers coached and mentored classroom teachers in the cluster schools to increase their capacity to meet the learning needs of Indigenous students.

The department gave funding to the non-state school sector to support their participation in the initiative.

Feedback from school cluster sites indicates they are satisfied with their progress to date and are using key learnings from 2008 to inform the way they support Indigenous students in 2009.

Evidence exists that the professional support teachers are positively influencing teacher capacity. Classroom teachers who were involved in the 2008 pilot reported an increased awareness of curriculum and teaching practices that helped them respond to the needs of Indigenous students in their classes.

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Transition Support Service

The Transition Support Service, now in its third year of operation, helps students make the transition from the primary phase of schooling in their home communities to secondary schooling in large metropolitan or urban areas.

In 2008-09, the department provided $1.5 million to support students from the Torres Strait, Cape York and Palm Islands while they studied away from home at rural and urban secondary schools.

In 2008, 245 students participated, with more than 79 per cent arriving on time for the start of each term.

Working relationships with destination schools improved due to transition support officers working in partnership with students, schools and communities.

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