Addressing the Regional Divide

We should never, ever think that just because these kids come from these low socio-economic places or a rural place, that they don’t have the ability or the skill set to do wonderful things.
— Ross Higgins, Aldridge State High School principal

In “The education system has failed students in rural and regional areas”, Bridget McKenzie  states, “It has been recognised across the spectrum of educational outcomes that regional and remote students suffer significant disadvantage simply because of where they live.” From measures such as NAPLAN, to attaining an HSC, to the score achievement on the HSC itself, it is widely documented that regional student are at a disadvantage.

McKenzie goes on to suggest that “At university, the statistics are even worse with just 25 per cent from regional areas... University completion rates also paint a dismal picture, with only 18.3 per cent of people aged 25 to 34 in remote and very remote areas and 20.4 per cent in regional areas obtaining a bachelor’s degree or above compared with 42.4 per cent in major cities.” 

Our regional kids are falling behind and staying behind. The Academy seeks to address this issue by engaging students in 21st Century skills learning based on their personal learning plans. By empowering kids to understand their own skills they will have some direction and control over their own progression. Student efficacy centres around principles of self empowerment. The Academy seeks to help students hold themselves to a higher standard and help them transition into community leadership and university roles. 

The high potential students are the ones most adversely affected. In "Widening Gaps: what NAPLAN tells us about student progress", Pete Goss and Julie Sonnemann state that “Bright kids in disadvantaged schools show the biggest losses, making two-and-a-half years less progress than students with similar capabilities in more advantaged schools.”

Economist James Heckman’s work suggests that “investing in students early can have a long-term economic and societal payoff and that investment in higher-ability students has a higher payoff.” (https://theconversation.com/a-nation-at-risk-how-gifted-low-income-kids-are-left-behind-56119) Hence, our belief at The Academy that interventions starting at year 3 can enhance a gifted child’s trajectory towards success. 

McKenzie goes on to suggest that, “It was clear then, just as it is today, that at every stage of the education experience, rural and regional kids are significantly more disadvantaged than their metropolitan peers... The system has failed our bright and talented rural students. I do not accept that the statistics are what they are because parents are lazy or students less intelligent.”  Indeed they are not. Current systems nationwide have created this gap in achievement.

Time to embrace change and take a chance on empowering kids to achieve. 

BlogFred Randell