Making the grade: The impact of policy on the HSC Aboriginal Studies course

Year: 2005

Author: Wray, Debra, Craven, Rhonda, Munns, Geoff

Type of paper: Refereed paper

This paper identifies the impact of key secondary school educational policies on the development of the NSW Higher School Certificate (HSC) Aboriginal Studies course. We present preliminary results of an investigation that examines the impact of the Aboriginal Studies HSC course on the self-concept of Aboriginal students and includes their perceptions of the strengths and limitations of the course. It has been over 15 years since the launch of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education policy which is an agreement between all states and territories to provide a policy that would cater to the educational needs of all Aboriginal peoples. This paper focuses mostly on the New South Wales context by firstly, identifying links between multiple and often conflicting policies pertaining to Aboriginal Education; secondly, by relating leading research in the field of Aboriginal Education and the development of Aboriginal Studies in NSW schools, and finally, by considering the relevance of research into selfconcept of Aboriginal students in Aboriginal Studies classes. Our study shows that the implementation of the Higher School Certificate (HSC) Aboriginal Studies course, provides for Aboriginal students a course that can have a positive impact on self-concept, that is, how students view themselves in relation to other students, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal.