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Free to learn? Removing unfreedoms in school communities to improve learning outcomes: Final report of Phase 2 SMAG Cluster Project 2018-19

posted on 2019-12-19, 00:00 authored by Vicki WareVicki Ware, Shannon McSolvin, Liz RouseLiz Rouse
This is the final report for phase two of SMAG-Deakin research project exploring the nature of community development and parent engagement programmes across a cluster of three Catholic primary schools in Southeast Melbourne – St Mary’s Catholic Primary School (Dandenong), St Gerard’s Catholic Primary School (Dandenong North), and St Anthony’s Catholic Primary School (Noble Park). Henceforth, these shall be referred to collectively as SMAG.
The findings of this report reinforce the pilot project’s tentative conclusions that schools are an ideal locale to partner in community development (CD) approaches for school families and the broader community. According to the socio-ecological model of childhood development, learning outcomes improve when the various areas of children’s lives are connected and functioning well – from microsystem, the home and family – all the way to macro system (the society they are situated in). CD approaches to education aim to improve children’s learning outcomes through removing ‘unfreedoms’ that prevent families from attaining their aspirations, thereby strengthening a positive environment that promotes childhood learning.
This report outlines parents and children’s perception of how the SMAG CD team support families and children to achieve their aspirations. It also provides insight into what barriers are experienced by families in reaching these goals. Final recommendations include continuing and escalating SMAG’s CD work to support families to build social connection, alleviate day-to-day challenges, and ultimately continue to improve children’s learning outcomes as a result.
This final report includes background information which provides an overview of the research to date. This is followed by specific findings of phase two in relation to the research questions, a discussion section and final recommendations. However, this report should be read in conjunction with the pilot report, written by Ware and Rouse (2017).



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Deakin University

Place of publication

Burwood, Vic.



Research statement

This is the final report for the second stage of this research project. It should be read in conjunction with the first stage report, written by Vicki-Ann Ware and Elizabeth Rouse (both of Deakin University, Arts & Education Faculty) in 2017.

Publication classification

A6 Research report/technical paper