Academic Achievement of Australian Defence Force Children Following a Posting: An Education Support Model

Year: 2019

Author: Baumann, Ros

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In a time when media interest of military operations on a world stage has highlighted the struggles and sacrifices military personnel face, including their families, there remains a paucity of research addressing appropriate education support for children of these members. For Australian Defence Force (ADF) members, the service requirement to relocate (post) to new base establishments results in disruption to residential, financial, and, support network stability for members’ families along with their children often required to changes schools. There is a consensus within the literature that mobility – both residential and schooling has a negative impact upon academic achievement, with further evidence suggesting a cumulative impact of such mobility. Research suggests that for children in primary schooling, upper-primary children will likely experience delays in numeracy, whilst children in the early years are likely to experience literacy delays. With literacy skills widely accepted as the foundation of future academic success, addressing the impacts of mobility and ensuring educational support for ADF children is imperative.

Building on findings which outline the measurable impacts, including cumulative impacts, the ADF lifestyle can have on the academic achievement of ADF children, a proposed Education Support Model encompassing a three-tiered approach will be developed. Through application of the Delphi technique, an iterative approach, aimed at gaining consensus from experts (ADF children's parents and teachers) expert insights regarding required supports, will inform the development of a model encompassing System Wide, Social-Emotional and Academic Achievement support for ADF children.

Social-Emotional supports are currently addressed through an Education – Defence collaborative school-based program, which receives wide spread support. System Wide supports require a commitment from Education to better identify the academic needs of ADF children, with lessons to be drawn from American DoDEA schooling models. Academic achievement supports are currently met through application for reimbursement of private tutoring costs for ADF children. Such academic support options are only available, for a period of 14 weeks in each posting location. The effectiveness of these tutoring efforts remain a questionable given potential cumulative impacts of postings. Development of academic supports is proposed through replacement of tutoring with an intensive school-based model for early-years literacy intervention to address the foreseeable academic achievement impacts of the ADF lifestyle. Effectiveness of school-based academic interventions will inform recommended changes to the delivery of academic achievement support, particularly in the early years, for ADF children impacted by posting mobility.