Connections, community and context: The importance of post-boarding school pathways and re-engagement for remote Aboriginal students
Keywords:Aboriginal, boarding school, residential college, post-schooling, remote community
For many remote Aboriginal Australian students, periods of time during their secondary education are spent living away from home at a boarding school. While financial, political and community support is burgeoning for boarding models that provide scholarships, sports programs or accommodation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, very little academic research or evidence exists that examines the experiences of students post-boarding. This paper forms part of a broader doctoral research study, but specifically focuses on how past students, families and communities from remote South Australia view the outcomes of boarding. Using a Grounded theory design, thematic analysis of 32 semi-structured interviews with past students, families and community members led to the identification of three main themes: connections (early exits), community (re-engaging in education), and context (employment in remote communities). Findings indicated that outcomes are not linear nor easily defined. Developing a theory of change was recommended as a future approach to help families, students and remote schools to clearly define goals and measures of success for each student, recognising a range of interpretations and conceptions of ‘success’, and adapting these goals as necessary.
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