This journal article suggests that more effective solutions to student marginalisation may be found by engaging with the students in the margins that they occupy.
For marginalised secondary school students, mainstream education may no longer appear to be an inviting place. While proposed solutions to problems of disengagement and marginalisation appear to concentrate on finding ways to coerce students back to mainstream education through, for example, ‘learning or earning’ legislation, this article suggests that more effective solutions may be found by engaging with the students in the margins that they occupy. Following discussion of key influences on student disengagement and a theory of imaginations, a ‘students-as-researchers’ (SaR) model of working with young people is discussed to demonstrate that, through the scaffolded application of active imagination, it is possible for such students to identify and create their own connections to the mainstream. The SaR model is illustrated through reference to groups of disaffected high school students who participated in an action research project to investigate apparent low aspiration for tertiary education among their peers at schools serving low-income communities in Queensland, Australia.