Factors of disadvantage

There are 5 major factors that contribute to educational disadvantage in Australia, according to the Gonski Report released in 2011.
We focus on three of them.

Socio-economic status

Level of remoteness

Level of remoteness is known to correlate directly with the educational outcomes of students. This means that students in more remote areas are contistently outperformed by their metropolitan peers simply because of their post-code growing up.

On average for example students in provincial areas in Australia, such as Kalgoorlie and Northam where we visit, are 1-and-a-quarter-years of schooling behind metropolitan students and likewise remote students are a whole 2-and-a-half years behind3.

The lower a student's socio-economic background, the more likely they are of under-performing at school and consequently retricting the choices they have later in life. In Australia the gap in education by the age of 15 between the highest and lowest economic quartiles is 2.5 years of schooling4.

ICSEA is a scale method adopted in Australia which uses a range of socio-economic factors to measure the external influence affecting a student's education. We use this when approaching schools which are most in need.


NAPLAN data shows that across all years, on average Indigenous students achieve significantly lower scores than their non-Indigenous peers and have the lowest Year 12 attainment rates. Indigenous Australians also have the lowest health outcomes as well as the highest rates of unemployment which makes their educational achievement at school even more crutial.

Unfortunately Indigenous students are over-represented in all categories of disadvantage.
The interaction between Indigeneity, low socioeconomic status and attending school in a remote or very remote location is particularly strong in Australia. Not only do these groups of students on average show lower performance through schooling, but this gap gets larger into high school. As a result these students have lower Year 12 or equivalent attainment rates, which affects their choices into the future.

Poor educational outcomes:
"The gap"

The "education gap" refers to the large difference between the highest and lowest performing students due to external areas of disadvantage that the child has no control over. Every country has a gap, yet some have larger performance gaps than others. PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) provides an independent report into a range of OECD countries of students at aged 15. It showed Australia's students on average in mathematics score significantly higher than the average of OECD countries and ranked along the likes of New Zealand and Vietnam5.

Hover over the statistic for more information

The problem with "the gap"

The problem lies however with the disproportionate range in achievement of Australian students which is much greater than those of other countries, which unveils a vastly inequitable schooling system as revealed in the Gonski Report. Australia's education gap is larger than the average of all OECD countries. 42% of Australian students fall below the nationally agreed baseline in mathematics6. This is far greater than the likes of high-performing countries such as Shanghai-China where only 12% of students performed below this level.

The key factors of educational disadvantage contribute to this vast gap in performance, amongst other things such as supposedly inequitable school funding. Indigenous students are by far overrepresented in all areas of performance, and are on average 2.5 years behind their non-Indigenous counterparts in all areas7. By location alone, remote students are 2 years behind metropolitan students8. On top of this in the same very remote areas, Indigenous students are almost 10 times more likely to be below the national minimum standard in mathematics by Year 79, and which gap will only get bigger into high school leaving Indigenous students at a huge disadvantage to their non-Indigenous peers before they even start high school. No matter the location that a student goes to school in Australia, children who's parents happen to be in the lowest income bracket perform on average 2.5 years behind their high-income peers in all areas by Year 10 at school10, simply because of the occupation chosen by their parents which they have no control over.

These are appalling gaps in education in Australia, and which are only a few of the statistics out there.

Did you know?

In remote areas 41% of Indigenous students are below the national minimum standard through NAPLAN in maths, compared to just 2.7% of non-Indigenous students in the same communities.
Indigenous students are 19 times more likely than metropolitan students to be below the national minimum standard in maths.
Our metropolitan schools are performing significantly higher than the international average in reading literacy, yet still 35% of all Australian students are below the nationally agreed baseline.
42% of Australian students are below the national baseline in maths by the time their are 15 years old.

Our Mission:
We aim to tackle these gaps in educational inequality and support rural students to ensure that their full potential is realised.

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