Addressing the needs of transient students: A collaborative approach to enhance teaching and learning in an area school

Funding year: 
1 year
University of Canterbury
School sector
Project start date: 
January 2006
Project end date: 
January 2007
Principal investigator(s): 
Jude MacArthur
Research team members: 
Nancy Higgins
Research partners: 
Donald Beasley Institute, Dunedin, with an area school in South Otago

Project Description

The research literature describes transient students as having difficulties making friends and socially integrating into their school, as being vulnerable to bullying, and as being academically and behaviourally at risk (Kariuki & Nash, 1999; Lee, 2001; Sanderson, 2003; Schafft, 2003). Significant gaps in students’ knowledge and poor prior records of their learning also place a strain on teachers who do not always have the time needed to adequately assess student achievement and engage them in the curriculum (Sanderson, 2003). The literature also refers to schools being financially and pedagogically stretched to meet the often high needs of its most mobile students (Sanderson, 2003; Schafft, 2003; Walls, 2003). However, Henderson (2001) noted that transience has been viewed negatively in the research literature and in schools, with blame being cast towards the students themselves and their families. She suggested that this focus has detracted from an educational priority to improve teaching and learning.

This project looked at transient students and their families in a small rural area school (Years 1–13) in Wooldon, The difficulties faced by transient students were highlighted as being of particular concern at Wooldon School.1 For this project, a “community of practice” was established in the school by the principal and deputy principal to collaboratively and, with the researchers, reflexively explore issues relating to teaching and learning for transient students.