Friday, 5 Aug 2011

MEDIA RELEASE

For immediate release: Friday 5 August 2011

Better preparation of Indigenous children for school is key to closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous student outcomes, Australian Council for Educational Research chief executive Professor Geoff Masters will tell delegates to the ACER Research Conference on Monday.

Speaking ahead of the conference, Professor Masters said that supporting the learning of Indigenous students was one of the biggest challenges facing Australian education, but that research suggested ways to improve outcomes for Indigenous students.

“We know that across Australia, Indigenous students, on average, continue to perform well below non-Indigenous children,” Professor Masters said.

“However, we can also see that when Indigenous children are in school, they make strong progress.

“The problem is that Indigenous children are often less prepared for school than non-Indigenous children. They are starting behind the eight ball,” he said.

Professor Masters said that children who begin school with developmental delays and low levels of language and literacy often never catch up.

He will make a case for the importance of initiatives which support early years learning for Indigenous children aged three to six, particularly those which involve families in the learning of their children.

“There is a need to promote school readiness and a love of learning among young Indigenous children,” Professor Masters said.

“We need to get children more ready for school, and schools more ready for children.

“This will contribute to improving educational outcomes for Indigenous Australians,” he said.

The ACER Research Conference 2011, on the theme Indigenous Education: Pathways to success, takes place in Darwin from 7 to 9 August.

Further information is available from http://research.acer.edu.au/research_conference/RC2011/

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