1 August 2013

Student performance on tests should not be the only criteria for judging schools, according to a University of Queensland-led project in Bundaberg, Childers and Gin Gin.

The PETRA Project (Pursuing Equity Through Rich Accountabilities), which began work with Wide Bay-Burnett schools in in 2011, aims to strengthen connections between schools and communities, increase student engagement, and improve student outcomes.

Funded by the Australian Research Council, the project is a partnership between UQ, Victoria University and the Queensland Department of Education and Training.

UQ School of Education Research Manager Dr Sam Sellar said the PETRA project offered exciting possibilities for community members to get involved in thinking about what counts at school and what makes a difference for students and their communities.

“There are informative experiences and perspectives – what we call ‘rich accounts’ – to be gained from families and local community members with stakes in how young people engage with and succeed in schooling,” Dr Sellar said.

“These community members can describe what they value about education and what they expect from schools.

“This helps to provide a richer picture of what ought to ‘count’ in schools.

“They can also discuss how they know if their expectations about schooling are being met and what resources schools need from governments and education systems to meet these expectations,” he said.

The PETRA research team is looking for people to be involved in a Learning Commission – a group of eight community members with a stake in schooling.

The group could include students, parents, employers, educators, school volunteers, community service workers or any other concerned members of the community.

The commission will meet once a month from August to December 2013.

Dr Sellar said the commission was an opportunity for people to share knowledge about schools and to gather knowledge and views from others.

“This will provide a basis for making recommendations for changes that could help communities to understand and support schools better and schools to support their students and communities in more productive ways,” he said.

Those interested can submit an expression of interest to sit on the Commission or to share their views with the commission.

For more information and to submit and expression of interest, go to: www.petraproject.com.au.

Media: Dr Sam Sellar, 07 3365 6497, 0437 658 646 or sam.sellar@uq.edu.au. Professor Bob Lingard 07 3365 7343 or: 0422 893 186 or r.lingard@uq.edu.au. Kristen Bastian, UQ Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences 07 3346 9279 or k.bastian@uq.edu.au.