Learning Catalysts

Improving Educational Outcomes for Disadvantaged Children

Students from socio-economic disadvantaged backgrounds are overrepresented amongst those who underachieve at school in Australia, sometimes performing at a level more than two years behind their peers. Educational outcomes at school can bear a strong influence on students’ future pathways but can also contribute to students’ experiences of school, their sense of themselves as a learner and their wellbeing.

This study explored the factors that contribute to educational outcomes for socio-economically disadvantaged students. It aimed to build a stronger evidence base from which to design and implement programs and approaches that improve the experience of education for these students and their families.

Research Design

The research explored the circumstances of a sample of socioeconomically disadvantaged families and students in receipt of a  provided by The Smith Family. A mixed method approach was adopted, with data collected from three key sources:

  1. Contextual administrative data and educational results for approximately 38,000 scholarship recipients and their families
  2. Large scale, self-reported quantitative survey data on educational experiences, mindsets and aspirations of approximately 6000 students matched to 4000 parents/carers
  3. Qualitative semi-structured interviews with 32 parent/carer-child pairs

The Centre for Children and Young People undertook the qualitative component of this research project.

Research Team for Qualitative Component

Centre Team

Prof Anne Graham, Julia Truscott, Dr Catharine Simmons.

Project Investigators

Prof Mark Western (ISSR, University of Queensland, lead institution), Prof Deborah Brennan (University of NSW), Prof Janeen Baxter (University of Queensland), Dr Tsui-O Tai (UQ), Dr Susan Creagh (UQ), Dr Denise Clague (UQ), Dr Nam Tran (UQ).

Research Partners

Anne Hampshire, Dr Gillian Considine, Rebecca Reeve, Catherine O’Byrne (The Smith Family).

Outputs to date

Download report: Smith Family Report

Academic Publications to Date

Hampshire, A. and Considine, G. (2015) Beyond the Lens of Financial Vulnerability: Supporting Vulnerable Young People to Stay Engaged in Education (Reports on the Learning for Life Program). In Interrogating Conceptions of ‘Vulnerable Youth in Theory, Policy and Practice, K. te Riele and R. Gorur (eds). Sense Publishers: Victoria. https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-94-6300-121-2_8