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  What Works - The Work Program

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What works for students

The What Works materials originated in the Australian Government’s Indigenous Education Strategic Initiatives Program’s Strategic Results Projects, and the report about them published as What Works? Explorations in Improving Outcomes for Indigenous Students (McRae et al, 2000). You can download the full report from the 'Related Link' at the right of this page.

Taken together with other research, policy and practice over time, the findings of that report indicate that to be successful, Indigenous students need

  • cultural recognition and support;
  • the development of requisite skills (literacy and numeracy); and
  • adequate levels of participation.


These aspects appear elsewhere in these materials in various forms and are not completely separable for two reasons.



First, success is genuinely derived from a partnership of the parties to the educational process — student, family, community, institution. Cultural support, recognition and acknowledgment can only be achieved by active and effective relationships between Indigenous communities and those who work in schools. Both parties have a role to play. The development of requisite skills will evolve from teachers’ high expectations of students and the skill and, especially, the sensitivity with which teachers approach their work. Support, even in limited forms from home, will aid this process. Adequate levels of participation will only be achieved by active encouragement from home and the provision of a welcoming and accepting climate in the school.

Second, comprehensive approaches are essential, and all three of the above components must be present. Students will not, for example, get maximum benefit from an excellent literacy program unless they attend  school regularly. It is also true, however, that attendance in itself is not enough — students need to be engaged by quality teaching when they are at school. And the whole schooling  process requires the support of the community.



© Commonwealth of Australia 2020