Middle schooling program in public schools of Canberra, Australia : an exploration of practice in the light of theory

  • Mah-i-Laqa Rafiq

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    Middle schooling, although a contested phenomenon, has established its position on the huge landscape of secondary education. The philosophy of middle schooling claims that middle school has the best organisational structure for meeting the (educational, emotional, social and psychological) needs of adolescents1. This study is an attempt to see how successful schools of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) are in implementing the middle schooling program with respect to the General Design for a Whole School Approach to School Improvement (Hill & Crevola,1997),which is used as theoretical framework for the evaluation. The three schools selected through purposive sampling for this study are considered exemplary for their implementation of programming consistent with the essential elements of middle schooling. The literature has recognised that, during last two decades, policy makers, educators, innovative reformers, and private foundations have manifested enormous commitment and interest in favour of the middle schooling program. The findings of this study indicate that, with certain adaptations, each of the three sample schools are implementing the salient features and characteristics of effective middle schools identified in the General Design and discussed widely in the literature. Each sample school is making its best efforts to improve the teaching and learning environment better to meet the needs of adolescents and is implementing middle school philosophy in accordance with the design. It is unlikely that any school can achieve "perfection" in all of the areas identified in the selected design (Hill & Crevola,1997),and the possibilities for improvement are always there. Certain significant issues related to students' security and connectedness are identified as requiring some attention by the school organisation. The main question of this study-how responsive middle school reforms are in the enrichment of the physical, social and emotional growth of adolescents-has largely been answered positively in this study. Based on the findings of this study it is concluded that the middle schooling program is not a wasted effort on the landscape of secondary education in Australia. The results of this study have certain implications for policy makers, educators and researchers. These include recognition of the need for teacher training programs to provide teacher training with a greater understanding of the teaching and learning needs of adolescents and the need for educators to make extra efforts in making the school environments safe, secure and inviting for adolescents. Longitudinal studies will be required to determine the long-term outcomes of the middle schooling program, as claimed by the proponents of the middle schooling movement.
    Date of Award2005
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorJim Woolnough (Supervisor) & Carole Kayrooz (Supervisor)

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