Hope for a brighter future: Beliefs, attitudes and experiences of principals and teachers in regional areas and their struggle to support EAL students

Year: 2018

Author: Barnes, Melissa, Matthews, Pamalee, Shwayli, Seham

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

With recent calls for the Federal Government to expand the permanent migration program in order to encourage migrants to settle in regional areas, questions are raised as to whether regional areas are currently equipped to support students with limited language proficiency and who may come with an interrupted schooling background. This presentation will discuss a recent study on the beliefs, attitudes and experiences of two principals and 26 teachers in two regional secondary schools in Victoria with the findings suggesting that these schools are struggling to support the students they currently teach, none-the-less future students. Through in-depth interviews with two principals and a mixed-methods survey capturing the views of 26 teachers, it was reported that many of these educators feel ill-equipped to adequately support EAL students in their schools. In particular, both principals argued that there is a need for more EAL trained teachers and that additional time is required to adequately support students with limited language proficiency and those who may have had interrupted schooling. Given that many students enter and exit their schools while being years behind their peers academically, their future pathways are limited in a regional area that is already hampered with a lack of employment and vocational training opportunities.