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Promising Practices in Supporting Success for Indigenous Students

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Indigenous peoples are diverse, within and across nations. However, Indigenous peoples have experienced colonisation processes that have undermined Indigenous young people’s access to their identity, language and culture. At the same time, Indigenous children have not generally had access to the same quality of education that other children in their country have had access to. These two forces in combination have undermined the educational opportunities and outcomes of successive generations of Indigenous children and young people, at times with catastrophic effect.

The six Canadian provinces and territories that participated in this study, along with New Zealand and Queensland (Australia), are actively seeking to better meet the educational needs and aspirations of Indigenous students and their families.

The report seeks to identify promising strategies, policies, programmes and practices that support improved learning outcomes for Indigenous students and to build an empirical evidence base on Indigenous students in education. The study investigates four areas in Indigenous education: well-being, participation, engagement and achievement in education. These outcomes are inter-connected and mutually reinforcing, and each is essential for the success of every student.

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Overview: Improving the educational experiences of Indigenous students

This chapter presents an overview of the factors and priorities identified in this study as critical to improving the educational experiences of Indigenous students. A number of factors support and enable significant, sustained improvement at system, community and school levels. These include respecting the rights and values of Indigenous students, setting targets with firm time frames, working closely with individual students and their families and communities, and collecting data to monitor progress over time. At the system level, three initiatives in particular should be included in any strategy to improve the education experiences of Indigenous students: providing high-quality early learning opportunities; supporting teachers and leaders to develop awareness, capability and confidence; and monitoring progress across key indicators at both system and school levels. At the individual school level, the combination of priorities used will differ depending on circumstances, but at a minimum, schools should focus on: quality and effectiveness of teaching; engagement with families; and direct support for students. The issues faced by Indigenous students go far beyond education, but it is education that provides hope and promise to address disparities, not only in educational opportunities but also a much wider set of inequities.

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