Successful Transition to School for Australian Aboriginal Children: The 2005 International Focus Issue of Childhood Education Focused on the Education of Aboriginal and Indigenous Children. Guest Editor Jyotsna Pattnaik Located Too Many Excellent Articles on That Important Topic to Include in One Issue. Therefore, She Will Continue to Provide These Theme-Related Articles, Here and in Future Issues

By Dockett, Sue; Mason, Terry et al. | Childhood Education, Spring 2006 | Go to article overview

Successful Transition to School for Australian Aboriginal Children: The 2005 International Focus Issue of Childhood Education Focused on the Education of Aboriginal and Indigenous Children. Guest Editor Jyotsna Pattnaik Located Too Many Excellent Articles on That Important Topic to Include in One Issue. Therefore, She Will Continue to Provide These Theme-Related Articles, Here and in Future Issues


Dockett, Sue, Mason, Terry, Perry, Bob, Childhood Education


Aboriginal people have been described as the most educationally disadvantaged group of people within Australia (Aboriginal and Tortes Strait Islander Commission, 1995). Their participation rates at all levels of education are lower than those of non-Indigenous Australians (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 1992, 1997). Many Aboriginal students continue to be affected by poverty (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, 1999) and suffer health problems, including otitis media, that adversely affect their school learning (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2002). Compared with non-Indigenous Australians, Australian Aborigines have higher levels of infant mortality, more infectious diseases, and a life expectancy that is likely to be 15 to 20 years lower (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 1997, 2002).

Much evidence points to inequity of access to, participation in, and outcomes from Australian schools for Aboriginal children (Adams, 1998; Cronin & Diezmann, 2002). Frigo and Adams (2002) suggest that many issues emerge for Aboriginal people early in their school careers and are perpetuated throughout school life:

In the early childhood years (0-8 years), Indigenous students are less likely to participate in pre-schooling than their non-Indigenous peers, they have higher rates of absenteeism beginning in primary school, and the early indications of their educational achievement, as measured by state-wide English literacy assessments, indicate that, as a group, they perform at a lower level compared to their non-Indigenous peers. (p. 1)

Across Australia, the number of Aboriginal students entering schools is increasing. Education systems are seeking appropriate strategies to enhance the learning and teaching of Aboriginal students. Aboriginal educators (both Aboriginal teachers and Aboriginal Education Assistants) have been employed to implement appropriate learning and teaching strategies, enhance the involvement of Aboriginal families and communities in their children's schooling, and improve the learning outcomes of Aboriginal students. Efforts to ensure that Australian Aboriginal children experience a successful transition to school are particularly important.

THE IMPORTANCE OF A SUCCESSFUL TRANSITION TO SCHOOL

Effective transition to school programs have the potential to help children--as well as their families and communities--feel comfortable, valued, and successful in school, and thereby avoid negative outcomes associated with disengagement from school. Ramey (cited in Viadero, 1999) summarized the impact of successful transitions as:

* Children have good feelings about their school, teachers, parents, and peers

* Children show good progress, in terms of their physical, social, emotional, and intellectual development

* Parents and key adults express positive attitudes toward school and promote children's learning

* Teachers and school personnel provide programs adapted to children's individual development and cultural/linguistic diversity

* Mutually supportive relationships develop among families, school personnel, service providers, and communities.

By focusing on effective transition to school programs, much can be done to support Aboriginal children, families, and communities and to promote positive engagement in education. Effective transition programs do not just occur: they are the product of much collaboration, planning, evaluation, and revision. Most of all, effective transition programs build positive relationships, and these relationships may well provide the key to children's (as well as the family's and the community's) sense of engagement at school and to building resilience to a range of potential risk factors. Indeed, Homel and the Developmental Crime Prevention Consortium (1997) suggest that interventions of any sort are often most effective when targeted at transition points, "when people are most vulnerable to negative influences, but also when they are most likely to be open to support and assistance" (Clark, 2003, p. …

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Successful Transition to School for Australian Aboriginal Children: The 2005 International Focus Issue of Childhood Education Focused on the Education of Aboriginal and Indigenous Children. Guest Editor Jyotsna Pattnaik Located Too Many Excellent Articles on That Important Topic to Include in One Issue. Therefore, She Will Continue to Provide These Theme-Related Articles, Here and in Future Issues
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