This paper discusses the challenge of managing cultural diversity in secondary schools, focusing on key structural, ideological, cultural, attitudinal and identity factors affecting the educational experiences and outcomes of Australian students from Arabic-speaking background (ASB). Recent research indicates that there are complex processes at play that hinder the ability of non English-speaking background (NESB) students to access constructive and meaningful education, and that such processes need further systematic investigation. It has also been argued that Australian schools are failing the test of social equity and that the dominant approach to curriculum and pedagogy does not meet the needs of the growing numbers of students from divergent cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. This paper focuses on identifying the social, cultural and attitudinal factors that affect the educational achievements of ASB students within a broad multidimensional approach to multicultural education. By linking thorough empirical research and innovative theory with practical, tested plans of action, this study proposes an in-principled approach to multicultural education that is extendable to a variety of schooling contexts while retaining its core focus on effecting positive learning outcomes. The key objectives of the larger study upon which this paper is based are to (a) address the disadvantages and barriers faced by NESB young people, particularly ASB young people, in achieving positive educational outcomes; (2) increase their chances for better life opportunities and self fulfilment; and (3) develop a good practice model for diversity management in Victorian schools. This latter objective will complement Victorian Government policies on cultural diversity and multicultural education.
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