Improving Junior Secondary learning outcomes via a separate Year 9 campus

Presentation


Seward-Linger, Rebecca and Dowden, Tony. 2017. "Improving Junior Secondary learning outcomes via a separate Year 9 campus." Annual International Australian Association for Research in Education Conference 2017 (AARE 2017). Canberra, Australia 26 - 30 Nov 2017 Australia.
Paper/Presentation Title

Improving Junior Secondary learning outcomes via a separate Year 9 campus

Presentation TypePresentation
AuthorsSeward-Linger, Rebecca (Author) and Dowden, Tony (Author)
Journal or Proceedings TitleProceedings of the Annual International Australian Association for Research in Education Conference 2017 (AARE 2017)
ERA Conference ID50546
Year2017
Place of PublicationAustralia
Web Address (URL) of Paperhttps://www.aare.edu.au/events/previous-aare-conferences/
Conference/EventAnnual International Australian Association for Research in Education Conference 2017 (AARE 2017)
International Conference of the Australian Association for Research in Education
Event Details
Annual International Australian Association for Research in Education Conference 2017 (AARE 2017)
Event Date
26 to end of 30 Nov 2017
Event Location
Canberra, Australia
Event Details
International Conference of the Australian Association for Research in Education
Abstract

In Australia, Year 9 generally represents the third year of compulsory secondary schooling and caters for students aged 14-15 years. Year 9 has emerged as a distinct sub-group within the broader sphere of middle years’ education, with research on Year 9 identifying worrying levels of student disengagement, absenteeism and teacher stress (Dinham & Rowe, 2007; Middle Years of Schooling Association, 2008). As a means to improving Year 9 education, some schools in Australia have instigated Year 9 reform involving a separate campus with segregated learning spaces for Year 9 students; dedicated Year 9 teaching teams; and alternative curricula.

This qualitative case study explored a Tasmanian school’s efforts to improve junior secondary schooling outcomes via a separate Year 9 campus. An emphasis was placed on the teachers’ perspectives in this study because teachers are key agents in enacting school change. The study examined the case school’s rationale and vision for Year 9 reform; the professional learning needs of teachers engaged in reform; and importantly, factors that could assist schools in building capacity for meaningful change. The study was conducted over a 2½-year period with the primary researcher gaining full access and participation in the reform as a teacher employed at the case school. The study was underpinned by constructivist inquiry and used multiple data collection tools including: full participant observations recorded in a reflective journal; semi-structured interviews with teachers and leaders; school document analysis; and Email dialogues with teachers and leaders.

From the teachers’ perspectives, this study identified Year 9 as a critical group of learners influenced by perceptions that Year 9 is insignificant; high levels of student disengagement; and difficulties associated with the life stage of adolescence. The study found that teachers’ difficulties and stress associated with Year 9 correlated with their poor knowledge and understanding of adolescent development (Caskey & Anfara, 2014) and the principles of middle schooling (Pendergast, Main, & Bahr, 2017). In addition, the on-going professional learning and development [PLD] of teachers was not explicitly linked to the case school’s reform process. A key recommendation from this study, therefore, is that in order for meaningful and holistic change in Year 9 to occur, it is vital that PLD for all junior secondary teachers includes a thorough grounding in middle schooling principles and forms an intrinsic part of the junior secondary reform agenda.

KeywordsYear 9
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020390102. Curriculum and pedagogy theory and development
Public Notes

Abstract only published.

Byline AffiliationsFaculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts
School of Teacher Education and Early Childhood
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
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