Exploring educators' practices for African students from refugee backgrounds in an Australian regional high school

Jane Wilkinson, Kiprono Langat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Australia s regional refugee resettlement policy has led to increasing numbers of refugees settling in regional areas. This trend has had a major impact upon regions, yet few studies have examined its implications for regional schools. This article reports on findings from focus groups conducted with mainstream and English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers at a previously ethnically homogenous regional secondary school, which had experienced a major increase in students of refugee background from a variety of African nations, and in particular, Sudan. Two kinds of analysis are employed in the article. The first identified key themes arising from the focus groups which explored how the school, and in particular, the teachers at classroom level, were responding to and addressing this changing student demographic, both socially and academically. The second analysis employed a theoretical framework that focused on the discursive, material and social preconditions that were enabling and constraining changes to educators practices in relation to these themes, as they responded to, and addressed this new cohort of students. Four key themes emerged from the focus groups: the role of leadership in fostering a whole school approach to inclusion, teachers access to ongoing professional development, the increasing diversity of mainstream classrooms, and the major role played by ESL teachers. The paper concludes by suggesting the potential implications of these findings in terms of the preconditions that are necessary in order for regional educators to work productively with African students from refugee backgrounds.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)158 - 177
Number of pages20
JournalAustralasian Review of African Studies
Volume33
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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