Rhiannon, Learning for Life student
Disadvantaged young Australians start school behind.
Australian children from low socioeconomic backgrounds are at risk of poor educational outcomes from their first year of school. This risk increases as they move through school, with lower proportions of them completing Year 12 compared to their more advantaged peers.
These poor educational outcomes affect young people’s post-school opportunities and life outcomes, including their employment prospects, health, social connectedness and reliance on welfare support. This results in significant costs to the young people themselves and to the wider Australian community.
How can we prevent poor post-school engagement through early intervention?
Although gaps in educational outcomes are evident early in a child’s life, research shows young people who start school behind can subsequently meet key educational outcomes. Students who start school developmentally on track can also fall behind over time.
Improving the educational outcomes of young Australians relies on providing targeted and timely support to those at risk of not achieving key milestones. But what are the early flags or indicators that identify students at educational risk who would benefit from additional support? Do these indicators vary over time as students move through school? The answers to these questions can both help to improve individual student outcomes and inform the more efficient allocation of educational resources, by directing support to students who need it.
This research presents detailed analyses of data collected over a seven year period from more than 30,000 disadvantaged students participating in The Smith Family’s Learning for Life program. This longitudinal data included demographics, administrative outcomes, program participation and educational outcomes over a seven year period using a Unique Student Identifier (USI).