Repeating students ‘exposed, ashamed’
FORCING struggling students to repeat a school year risks seriously damaging selfesteem and makes them more likely to drop out, a leading educational research organisation has warned.
Students feel ashamed and exposed — and as though they were being punished — when made to repeat a year, even when schools have the best intentions, said Matthew Deeble, the director of Evidence for Learning, a new independent non-profit that aims to help education professionals, politicians and parents make better decisions.
Mr Deeble said primary school pupils were particularly negatively affected by repeating.
“You’re doing something that’s likely to be detrimental to the child’s future and you’re also labouring the school or the system with increased costs,” he said.
“They’re likely to be getting the same thing that they got the last time again — and if it didn’t work the first time, it’s unlikely to work a second time around. The better approach is to take that kid and keep them with their cohort and give them the support they need, which could be reading catchup programs, or help with social and emotional learning.”
He said education departments were still making children repeat a year because it was a strategy that involved the least change to structures and systems — though it was gradually falling out of fashion.
Students who were young, male, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and from poor backgrounds were most likely to be made to repeat.
Mr Deeble said it had less of a negative impact if senior students participated in the decision to repeat a year, as they were less likely to lose confidence in their ability to learn.