Predictable pathways: Pacific Islander learners and school transitions in Melbourne's western region.

Irene Kmudu Paulsen


This paper tracks the education trajectories of a small group of Melbourne-based Pacific Islander (PI) learners who transitioned from secondary to post-school destinations, 2012 to 2015. Their school experiences were monitored over four years with the aim of identifying common pathways and underlying factors. The study found that the PI learners typically followed similar post-school pathways to non-PI learners. In all cases, they transitioned directly to higher or vocational education, non-school alternative settings or direct employment pathways. However, there was a consistent pattern of lower level academic achievement and, consequently, lower status post-school pathways. These low-level outcomes, whether directed by learners or schools, were often accepted even if inconsistent with initial learner or parental goals. While a direct transition from secondary school to university was the most desired pathway for many learners and their families, the study found that alternative school settings provided important spaces for learners to re-negotiate their school goals and return to university study. Acquiring employment immediately after leaving school was also perceived as an acceptable alternate pathway. Acceptance of these eventual but unplanned pathways helped reinforce a perception that school transitions of PI learners are typically low-level and mostly predictable.


Pacific Islander learners;school participation, achievement and outcomes; educational transitions and pathways.

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