Academic journal article Australian Journal of Education

Moving Schools: Antecedents, Impact on Students and Interventions

Academic journal article Australian Journal of Education

Moving Schools: Antecedents, Impact on Students and Interventions

Article excerpt

Mobility in education can be caused by families moving from city to city or state to state as employment and housing changes for them; however, it can also be the result of families moving their children from one school to another within the same area, for other, more personal reasons. As the student mobility rate rises, concerns about its impact on the young learner increase (Wright, 1999).

This research investigated student mobility in a regional area in northern Queensland where the mobility rate increases each year. Through interviews with school personnel and some parents, a number of issues surrounding student mobility were examined. These included antecedents to mobility, perceived impact of mobility on students and strategies to address issues of mobility.

Keywords

educational mobility

transfer policy

academic achievement

transfer programs

attendance

social restrictions

Introduction

Mobility in schools has been described as 'patterns of family movement that involve students in relocating school, or periods of time when they do not attend school' and, further, a mobile student is described as 'a student who moves school more than twice in a three year period' (Commonwealth Department of Education, Science & Training & Department of Defence, [DEST & Def], 2000, p. 2). Student mobility can be caused by families moving from city to city or state to state as employment and housing situations change for them, but it can also be the result of families moving their children from one school to another within the same area for other, more personal reasons.

Australia has one of the most highly mobile populations in the western world (Settles, 1993, in Fields, 1997).The Australian Bureau of Statistics (2001, in DEST & Def, 2002) estimated that, within the overall Australian population, thirty per cent of residents from households with children moved at least once over a three year period, with an increasing proportion of this relocation being movement between one state or territory and another. The average Australian moves more than eleven times during his or her lifetime (Bell, 1995, in Fields, 1997). Regional areas such as the one examined in this research record a slightly higher mobility rate (forty-two per cent) than urban areas (forty per cent) (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2000).

While a number of positive impacts of mobility have been cited in research (Whalen & Fried, 1973; Wyer, Danaher, Kindt & Moriarty, 1997), mobility often causes inconsistency or interruption in the educational experience of the student (Ligon & Paredes, 1992, in Fisher, Matthews, Stafford, Nakagawa & Durante, 2002).

Literature review

Antecedents to mobility

Research in the area of mobility cites a number of factors that contribute to student mobility. According to Rumberger and Larson (1998) these factors are either family based or school based. Family-based reasons for mobility are mainly due to employment, lifestyle and housing changes, family changes (DEST & Def, 2002; Fields, 1997) and income (Martin, 2002; Wright, 1999).With the impact that global economic pressures have had on the labour market, employment moves have become more frequent, as one or both parents' work commitments or their seeking stable employment require relocation of the family to another geographical area (DEST & Def, 2002).

Lifestyle-related movement, where a family makes a conscious decision to relocate to a larger home or a better climate, accounts for many of these moves. Housing changes, due to instability in the housing market, eviction, a lack of adequate, low income housing and home ownership also account for a considerable number of family moves (DEST & Def, 2000; Fisher et al., 2002; Mantzicopoulos & Knutson, 2002; Martin, 2002; Skandera & Sousa, 2002). …

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