Only when students’ ability, will, and perseverance determines how well they perform at school — not their socio-economic background — will Australian society be truly inclusive, equitable and just.
We’re not there yet...only when students’ mastery, will, and perseverance determines how well they perform at school — not their socio-economic background — will Australian society be truly inclusive, equitable and just.
In fact, things have gotten worse in Australia in recent years.
Victoria University assessed the challenges students face while remote learning. They identified five pillars that impacted a students ability to learn - a material divide, a digital divide, a skills and disposition divide, the parental support divide and learning adjustments divide - with students from lower-socio economic backgrounds being impacted by multiple pillars. Additionally, in a report that surveyed over 2,000 Australian educators, Pivot identified that ICSEA quartiles revealed a different hierarchy of concerns for students learning remotely. Where social isolation was the number one issue amongst the most disadvantaged Quartile 4 schools, teachers from better resourced Quartile 1 schools listed their students’ ability to access school resources and learning loss as their key concerns. We also know that PISA and NAPLAN figures report a growing gap in educational achievement related to socio- economic status. In maths, the achievement gap between the least and most advantaged students is significant.
Students in disadvantaged secondary schools are making around half the progress in numeracy compared to students in advantaged schools. And in many cases, students in disadvantaged schools are making a lot less than a year worth of growth each year.
“A holistic approach to education that’s not just about building the skills of a unit, but those peripheral things that come through the environment that you set up in the classroom.”
Maths Pathway is pushing back against social inequity. In 2021, the mean improvement rate for students in disadvantaged schools was 3.46, compared to the still impressive improvement rate of 2.77 for learners in more privileged schools. In other words, Maths Pathway students in all schools are learning more rapidly than they were before - something we also saw continue unaffected throughout remote learning - but this effect is even stronger for underprivileged students. We are helping teachers provide a clear pathway for those deprived of the best start in life to achieve and excel.
These results also support research findings that leadership quality, school culture, consistency of teacher practice and teacher professional development are more important drivers for growth than size, sector, remoteness or socio-economic background. This is why the Maths Pathway model at its core is about teacher practice, providing schools with a scalable framework and supporting teachers and leaders through personalised coaching and ongoing professional learning opportunities.