04 SES 02 A, Researching Inclusion Across Countries: Teacher Self-Efficacy, Student Rights and Educational Success
How do the creation of different time/space pathways assist vulnerable young people experience educational success in alternative educational settings?
To understand how the tight time-space pathways of mainstream school can be reimagined to enable the most vulnerable students to experience success.
The notion of time-space-paths and their significance in schooling has been explored by Gordon, Holland and Lahelma (2000) in their ethnographic work on Finnish and British schools. Tightly knit time-space paths mapped in timetables are learned by students at the beginning of the school year while teachers monitor and control students following them throughout the year with one of the central aims of schools is to produce a sense of time and punctuality (Lingard & Thomson 2017).
To discuss time-space paths and examine how they are played out by students with differing levels of agency and control, Gordon et al (2000) identify and develop the concepts of the official school. The official (mainstream) school, portrayed through the policies (including welfare and discipline policies), curriculum and pedagogic structures defines an instructional relationship based on power with the teacher as the authority and the student as learner. Gordon et al (2000) introduce the concept of a ‘professional pupil’ and remark that ‘teaching of official time-space paths is a crucial part of the professionalization of school students’ (Gordon et al 2000, pg.149). ‘Professional pupils’ are thus students who can effectively negotiate the tight time-space pathways of the official school and act according to the behavioural norms of the official school.
Disengagement with compulsory education can be a result of many factors such as challenges in personal or family life; mistrust or dissatisfaction with learning experiences or concern that school is punitive and unwelcoming (e.g. Riley & Docking 2004; Campbell, McGuire & Stockley 2012; Phillips, 2011; Smyth, McInnerney & Fish 2013).For some young people there is a real difficulty in maintaining the required time-space paths because of factors impacting on their lives outside school (Gordon et al 2000.) Failing to follow the time space paths may be the source of conflict between teachers and students, especially if the paths are unresponsive to the needs of vulnerable students. (Aaltonen 2012). This can lead to disengagement and exclusion of some of the most vulnerable students in mainstream settings. Alternative educational settings can then be seen as the option to continue compulsory education.
An alternative education sector has evolved in Australia over recent decades with around 70,000 young people in Australia are using alternative education programs (te Riele 2014).Issues have surfaced in alternative programs including the delivery of a rigorous curriculum, the expectation of student academic achievement and how to create the opportunity for students to return to mainstream education and training (Stokes and Turnbull, 2017). Teachers in these settings acknowledge the challenge of developing skills to assist students with significant behavioural and learning needs (Downey 2007; Stokes and Turnbull 2016; Trethowan & Nursey 2015). For many students there is a significant gap between the ‘professional student’ from the mainstream setting and the emotional, behavioural and learning needs of the student in the alternative setting.
In Finland, alternative education in conjunction with year-classes 7-9 is provided by local authorities with an aim to guide students to finish compulsory education with a certificate. Students are referred to flexible education classes by the school welfare officials . It follows the national curriculum with a wider range of possibilities to obtain knowledge corresponding to the basic education syllabus and students can make individual choices regarding the variety of studies through activity-based learning, small group teaching, on-the-job learning and different learning environments.
This research draws on qualitative data gathered from two sets of interviews conducted in Australia and Finland. The Australian data was gathered from a Flexible Learning Option program (FLO) that was located in a large fast growing metropolitan secondary school in an outer suburban growth corridor of Melbourne. The school had set up the FLO to cater for students in years 8 and 9 who were not progressing well in the mainstream classes and were at risk of disengaging from education. The FLO had been in operation for a few years but was not delivering the educational or social learning outcomes that the students needed. The school decided the teachers in the FLO would undertake training in Trauma Informed Positive Education (TIPE). The TIPE program provided a range of classroom strategies and learning activities from Prep to Year 12 across three sequential tiers of therapeutic learning and growth building (Brunzell, Stokes & Waters 2016 a, Brunzell, Stokes & Waters 2016 b). Ten participants from the FLO were interviewed twice. The focus groups were conducted over the course of 2016 at the beginning of the program and at the end as part of an evaluation of the program being conducted in two educational settings in Victoria (Stokes & Turnbull 2016). The Finnish data was produced in a program called My Own Career (MOC, Omaura in Finnish) that offered targeted and tailored support to young people who were in danger of failing to graduate with a diploma. MOC activities were produced jointly by the Educational Department and the Youth Department of the City of Helsinki. The MOC staff in each school included one youth worker and one or two special teachers who were responsible for organising the activities during the school days. Key elements were individual tailored planning, external learning at the worksites, and intensive study courses. The data consists of 23 biographical one-off interviews (11 girls, 12 boys) that were conducted during autumn 2008 in three Helsinki based schools. All research participants were ninth graders, aged between 15 and 17, and the majority of them came from white, working class families. They all had a history of or were still struggling with disengagement from school, delinquent behaviour and/or use of intoxicants.
Both the Australian and Finnish settings combined tight and loose time-space paths to accommodate young people’s often chaotic lives. But this was enacted in very different ways. In Australia, there was a use of a trauma informed therapeutic growth back ground with a focus on teaching of self-regulation through structure. We defined this as teacher-led time space pathways. In Finland the combination of the teacher and youth worker with a focus on individual student autonomy, produced student-led time-space pathways. Two examples are provided: In Australia at the FLO for students in Years 9 and 10, the strategies included classroom activities to assist the student to self -regulate their behaviour and emotions. The FLO teachers regulated time by structuring classroom learning activities around rhythm related activities called ‘brain breaks’. Brain breaks provide the hook at the start of the lesson, then three activities over an hour, broken up by two or three brain breaks. Time was regulated in these activities in the lessons to assist students with their physical and emotional self-regulation. Students talked about their past experience of mainstream school where they were constantly in trouble as they were distracted by being in larger groups of students with the noise created in those larger groups and compared to the difference being in smaller personalized learning space after learning the skills to self-regulate their emotions. While in Finland at the MOC, teachers stated that teaching students “life management” was important so they were strict with attendance (the beginning and end of the day), but the school day was de-synchronised to encourage students taking responsibility for their time. This meant that within the school day students were able to enjoy flexible time-space paths that allowed them to pace their study time, breaks and where they sat according to their individual needs.
Aaltonen, S. (2012). Subjective Orientations to the Schooling of Young People on the Margins of School. YOUNG, 20(3), 219–235. Brunzell, T., Stokes, H., & Waters, L. (2016a). Trauma-informed flexible learning: Classrooms that strengthen regulatory abilities. International Journal of Child, Youth and Family Studies, 7(2), 218-239. Brunzell, T., Stokes, H., & Waters, L. (2016b). Trauma-Informed Positive Education: Using positive psychology to strengthen vulnerable students. Contemporary School Psychology, 20, 63-83. Campbell, L., McGuire, M. & Stockley, C. (2012). I just want to go to school: voices of young people experiencing educational disadvantage. Melbourne: Good Shepherd Youth & Family Service, Jesuit Social Services & MacKillop Family Services Gordon, T, Holland. J. & Lahelma, E. (2000). Making spaces: Citizenship and Difference in Schools, Basingstoke, MacMillan Pres. Downey, L. (2007). Calmer Classrooms: A guide to working with traumatized children. Melbourne: State of Victoria, Child Safety Commissioner. Lingard, B. & Thompson, G. (2017). Doing time in the sociology of education, British Journal of Sociology of Education 38(1): 1-12. Phillips, R. (2011). Toward authentic student-centered practices: voices of alternative school students. Education & Urban Society 45(6), 668-699. Riley, K. & Docking, J. (2004). Voices of disaffected pupils: Implications for Policy and Practice, British Journal of Educational Studies 52(2): 166-179. Smyth, J., McInerney, P. & Fish, T. (2013). Blurring the boundaries: from relational learning towards a critical pedagogy of engagement for disengaged disadvantaged young people. Pedagogy, Culture & Society, 21(2), 299-320 Stokes, H., & Turnbull, M. (2016). Evaluation of the Berry Street Model of Education: trauma informed positive education enacted in mainstream schools. Melbourne: University of melbourne Melbourne Graduate School od Education, Youth Research Centre Stokes, H., & Turnbull, M. (2017). Young people at the margins: Where to with education? In T. Bentley & G. Savage (Eds.) Educating Australia (pp.163-176). Melbourne: Melbourne University Press. te Riele, K. (2014). Putting the jigsaw together: Flexible learning programs in Australia. Final Report. Melbourne: Victoria Institute for Education, Diversity and Lifelong Learning Trethowan, V. & Nursey, J. (2015). Helping children and adolescents recover from disaster: A review of teacher-based support programs in Victorian schools, Australian Journal of Emergency Management, 30 (4), 17-20
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