The evidence provided by the 1,812 West Australian school students who participated in this consultation is both compelling and thought provoking.
The student engagement framework developed out of the report identifies nine factors that influence a student’s level of engagement in school and learning and the complex interplay these factors have on each other and overall engagement.
While reaffirming that the approaches within our schools meet the needs of most children and young people much of the time, the students’ accounts also clearly identify areas for significant improvement that cannot be ignored. This is across all school sectors – government and non-government – and across a range of issues such as bullying, behaviour management, pedagogy and curriculum.
The findings also show that students, families, teachers and school staff, education administrators, governing authorities1 and academics all have a role to play in creating the optimum learning environment for children and young people.
This report highlights a number of areas within education that require further research and exploration to test and better understand the impact of current approaches to engaging children and young people faced with a rapidly changing world.
Through the consultation, Aboriginal children and young people, children and young people with long-term health problems or disability, and males in regional schools identified specific issues that impact on their learning and engagement with education that urgently require greater attention. Within the context of this report, these children and young people are particularly vulnerable and the issues they experience require deeper consideration.
This will be a continuing area of advocacy for my office, and I will be working with schools and governing authorities to respond to the views expressed by students in this and previous consultations. I also plan to develop a series of policy briefs to further explore issues arising in the data to guide and assist decision-makers and teachers.
Schools are very busy environments with increasingly more demands placed on them to respond to a range of societal issues and educational needs. Much effort has been put into developing resources, frameworks, policies and programs to support and engage students. This work is important and has helped many students, but this report shows there is more to be done to create a truly responsive and equitable education system. I look forward to working with all school sectors to achieve this.
I will also monitor and report on progress on the recommendations of this report to ensure children and young people’s views are respected and result in practical improvements for all WA students.