Edward's cover image

Edward Tudor

Year of Award: 2016 Award State: Victoria Education > Indigenous
The Jack Brockhoff Foundation Churchill Fellowship to investigate programs that support the transition of young Indigenous or disadvantaged people to mainstream education - New Zealand, USA, Canada, Finland

Conclusions and recommendations

The key conclusions and recommendations of my Fellowship are:

  1.  (ensure students belong) We must reflect on how we can ensure that Indigenous students feel that they truly belong in their educational environment. What already exists to create a sense of belonging? What do we need to create in addition? What in the current shape of the institution might prevent a student from feeling that they belong? As the staff at UBC’s Longhouse ask themselves, “How is the student experiencing our institution?”
  2. (commit to our students for the long term) Our responsibility to our MITS students must not end when they leave our transition program. The best programs are committed to their students in the long term – they act as trusted mentors and advisors through high school, university and into the workforce. At MITS, we have recognised the importance of supporting our students once they have graduated from MITS, and from the start of 2018 now have three staff with responsibility for our Pathways Program.
  3. (share in celebration of Indigenous culture) Many people remarked on how fortunate they believe we are in Australia to share in the culture and country of our Indigenous Australians. To create a sense of belonging, and in the longer term to give effect to true reconciliation, we must all share in a celebration our Australian Indigenous cultures. Whilst Indigenous culture belongs to our Indigenous people, we can all learn from and be enriched by their 65,000 years of occupation, language, culture and belonging. This sharing will create culturally safe institutions where our Indigenous students can thrive.
  4. (transition from service provider to thought leader) At its core, MITS will always be a transition school for Indigenous students from remote and regional communities. However, the role we play supporting our graduate students, Melbourne Families and Partner Schools is significant. We should expect that in the early years of our program, this support will be handson, resource intensive and often triage-focussed. But we must anticipate that, in the coming years, our role will change. Our community of Melbourne schools and families is building its capacity to support Indigenous students. In the coming years, MITS should pivot from active service provider, to trusted advisor and thought-leader. This will flag the maturing of our collective capacity to support Indigenous students in our Melbourne schools, and will ensure greater sustainability of the MITS model.
  5. (use Indigenous knowledge to meaningfully engage Indigenous students) Our MITS families want their students to come to Melbourne to develop a broad range of skills and knowledge. To enable this, we must tap into their prior knowledge, in particular by using Indigenous content. Students learn best when they can relate to and are excited by the subject matter. Acknowledging and valuing a student’s own knowledge will encourage them to pursue study in broader, less familiar fields.
  6. (articulate clearly the purpose of the transition) Occasionally, people will be critical of programs like MITS for imposing Western values on Indigenous students. We must articulate clearly the purpose of MITS. It provides its students and families with the opportunities and lifechoices that they want. It enables access to a Melbourne education for those students who aspire to one. It is not about “becoming white” and it is not the right model for all students; it is about empowering our students, who have chosen to come to MITS, “to manage their relationship with a dominant society”, to benefit themselves, their communities and their culture.
  7. (resource student transitions properly) Transitioning from a remote community to a large Melbourne school is immensely challenging for our students and requires substantial resourcing. The global experience tells us that this resourcing is essential, and that MITS is – by global standards – lean in this regard. We must commit to fully resourcing our transition year, and the support of our students once they have graduated from MITS. My Fellowship experience demonstrates that the short-term costs are far outweighed by the long-term outcomes. Edward Tudor 2016 Churchill Fellow The Jack Brockhoff Foundation Churchill Fellowship to investigate programs that support the transition of young Indigenous or disadvantaged people to mainstream education 
  8. (use data to demonstrate outcomes) “There’s no data without a story, and no story without data.” In so many places I visited, there was clearly something special and intangible – in the Australian lexicon, it was “the vibe”. But, a vibe is hard to pin down, and harder to describe to others. So, in this report, I’ve relied heavily on outcomes data. How did students compare against their control group, and therefore what measurable uplift does the program provide? Clearly, great transition programs are about so much than data, but data allows us to demonstrate their success, identify where approaches are working, and identify where more work is needed.
  9. (for now, achieve scale through influence) At MITS, we’re often asked about our plans for growth. For organisations supporting the educational transition of young people, achieving scale is challenging. Our work is small-scale, tailored to our young people and communities, requiring deep relationships, and substantial resources. The organisations that I visited provide a model for knowledge sharing as way to achieve scale and impact. Whilst it doesn’t close the door to program growth in the future, it does demonstrate how MITS’s impact can be broader than its own footprint in the mid-term.
  10. (be affirmed by the early success of MITS) At MITS, our model is innovative, new, and so our outcomes are not guaranteed. But, the organisations I visited on my Fellowship give us reason to feel very hopeful for the future of our program and more importantly our students. Across the globe, transition programs are enabling young people to access new opportunities not only retaining their cultural identity, but using that identity as one of their pillars of strength. There’s much we can learn from kindred organisations around the world, but we’re on the right track.
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