What works

  • There is limited Australian evaluation evidence on the school-based factors that increase student engagement and contribute to an effective learning environment. There are however, some common themes that emerge on processes and strategies that contribute to a positive learning environment.
  • The common characteristics of schools that are more effective for Indigenous students include:
    • strong and effective school leadership
    • a positive school culture that encourages care and safety among students and staff, as well as a positive sense of Indigenous student identity
    • teachers with the skills and knowledge to effectively engage and develop relationships with Indigenous students
    • high levels of community involvement in the planning and delivery of school processes, priorities and curricula.

What doesn’t work

  • A school culture that is unwelcoming, fails to support Indigenous students, and does not value Indigenous culture.
  • Inadequate teacher training for teaching in a cross-cultural, bilingual situation.
  • Low performance expectations of Indigenous students.
  • Limited or no Indigenous parent and community involvement in schooling processes.

What we don’t know

  • In what ways a school’s leadership can foster an effective learning environment for Indigenous students at school.
  • The number of high-quality teachers working in Indigenous schools and which characteristics of quality teachers are most effective for improving student outcomes.
  • Which aspects of school engagement matter most in learning outcomes.