Youth detention, disability and education in Australia

Year: 2018

Author: Ewing, Bronwyn, Sarra, Grace

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This research addresses an important problem related to Indigenous disadvantage in education and the increasing numbers of Indigenous young people involved in detention in the juvenile justice system. Indigenous students have historically underachieved in mathematics. They continue to experience lower than expected achievement in mathematics which limits their engagement in learning and future educational opportunities and presents new challenges for teachers. The project draws on two conceptual frameworks to advance knowledge about mathematics teaching and incarcerated young people’s learning. It is based on decolonising methodology in that it collaborates with Indigenous young people and mentors and, focuses on improving learning outcomes (ensuring that the researched benefit). We conducted a cohort study involving one hundred and twenty incarcerated young people and a mathematics teaching team of ten teachers who participated in the first eighteen months of a three year study. Students were administered mathematics diagnostic tasks before and at the completion of the first year of the study. Teachers participated in lesson modelling, semi-structured interviews, focus group interviews and were administered an efficacy survey. Incarcerated young people showed varying levels of mathematics knowledge and understanding, with some having significant gaps in their knowledge. Teachers were identified as drawing on a range of curricula to support the young people. Such curricula included the Australian Foundation to Year 10 Mathematics Curriculum, Australian Core Skills Framework and the Basic and Key Skill Builder.