Re­peat­ing stu­dents ‘ex­posed, ashamed’

Sunday Herald Sun - - News -

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.

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