Changing the Fortunes of Disadvantaged High School Students

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With a diverse population and a wide range of ability levels, Matraville Sports High School (MSHS), together with its feeder primary schools and surrounding community, provide a microcosm of wider Australian society.

Since 2014, the innovative UNSW Matraville Education Partnership (MEP) has created strong links between these stakeholders and enhanced school and university educational opportunities for students in the process.

The MEP is a first-of-its-kind school-based university education program in which UNSW academics and students work in partnership with Matraville students, teachers, parents and the wider public to deliver a suite of educational and supportive activities.

Our partnership with Matraville has resulted in the high school achieving significantly improved NAPLAN and HSC results since UNSW involvement began.It’s also encouraged students, who’ve been disadvantaged by educational and/or social systems, to aspire to access higher education.

A New Era in Education

A New Era in Education

Conceptualised by UNSW School of Education’s Professor Chris Davison in partnership with the principal of MSHS, Nerida Walker, the MEP builds research and knowledge transfer into initiatives that promote academic excellence and social engagement. It has a specific focus on improving outcomes for marginalised groups such as Indigenous Australians and students from low socio-economic and migrant backgrounds.

Improving the Lives of Indigenous Youth

The Culture, Community and Curriculum Project (CCCP), a three-year initiative funded by the Ian Potter Foundation, is a prime example of MEP’s impact. It supports Aboriginal community members to strengthen the teaching of Aboriginal perspectives in the classroom and works to improve the educational outcomes of Indigenous youth. The project is currently aiming to attract additional funding to expand and create long-term “cultural resident” positions for Aboriginal community members.

Creating Opportunities for the Teachers of the Future

The MEP also provides a service-learning experience for UNSW students, while encouraging staff to engage in extracurricular activities. “Afterschool programs, excursions and enrichment opportunities engage local students in exciting learning, while extra help from UNSW students boosts their academic outcomes,” says UNSW Matraville Partnership Manager Katherine Thompson.

The quality of UNSW students’ educational experience is supported through research opportunities and the curriculum. All undergraduate and masters students gain more practical experience and undertake community-supported coursework in Indigenous education.