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See Prosser, B., McCallum, F., Milroy, P., Comber, B. & Nixon, H. (2008) ‘I am smart and I am not joking’: Aiming high in the middle years of schooling. Australian Educational Researcher , 35 (2), 15-36. lawyer vet marine biologist child psychologist interior designer/architect

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See Prosser, B., McCallum, F., Milroy, P., Comber, B. & Nixon, H. (2008) ‘I am smart and I am not joking’: Aiming high in the middle years of schooling. Australian Educational Researcher, 35 (2), 15-36.

1 imagined and hoped for future trajectories


marine biologist

child psychologist

interior designer/architect

doctor/social worker/dentist



teacher (little kids/ PE/English/Japanese)

forensic scientist

zookeeper/park ranger/animal carer

Child psychiatrist

computer/game designer


professional sportsperson


mechanic/truck driver/wrecker




author/illustrator/graphic designer

business/shop owner

radio/news reporter/ cameraman


racing driver

shop assistant



army nurse/midwife/paramedic

1. Imagined and hoped-for future trajectories
what do you need to do to make this happen
What do you need to do to make this happen?

get a good education

get good marks

get good grades

study and work hard

stay at school

study hard in school and after school

study, study, study and help from the teachers

try my best in school and try my hardest

focus on school

pass Year 12

get my SACE

complete my SACE

concentrate on my work

concentrate with no distractions

don’t give up

work hard

study hard for tests

what help do you need to make this happen
What help do you need to make this happen?

I need the help of teachers to help me reach my goals

I need someone to support me

I need help to keep me at school so I can get the grades and knowledge I need

I need support from family and friends

I need help from teachers, parents, and friends and myself

I need to be encouraged for this to happen

I need help from school

guidance someone to put you on the right track

my teachers and parents to help me achieve good grades

I need good teachers

I need help from the teachers from school because I need to learn about things

people to work with on proper subjects surrounding the areas

ask when I need help

controlling myself from stuffing around

2 obstacles to well being and achievement
2. Obstacles to well-being and achievement
  • Improved facilities & resources, specialist help; quiet, safe learning environments.
  • My worse experience in year 7 is (being) constantly bullied by people bigger than me because I was smarter than them.
  • My worst experiences were the times where I was harrased and assaulted continuously.
  • Year 6/7 was the worst because I kept getting bashed up and kept getting suspended and excloded.

Pleas for structural support from schools

  • If the school wants to be a better one, they should stop the harassment, and give more serious punishments than detention to someone who harasses someone.
  • Getting rid of people who bash people for good. Actually do something about just don’t suspend them for two days. They deserve worst.
My worse experience in Year 8 was learning things or doing subjects I had no interest in. These experiences made it bad for me because it made me stop wanting to learn.

My worse experience of all of my schooling years was year six. It was really bad because I had the wost teachers. Every week we would have a relief teacher about two or three times… …and we never did any work because all we ever did was read short stories and novels. All of my books were empty. And the year after that was my last year of primary school so I had a lot of catching up to do.

I feel bad about school. It’s boring because you don’t get to play much games at school. I don’t feel successful at school because I play up – I play up because I don’t want to do work – it’s boring. I struggle with the work. I get lots of help but I still find it hard.

I learn best when a teacher helps and doesn’t get mad if I don’t get it.

My best experience in primary school was year 7! I learned lots, I even got better at maths. I was also in the graduation committee. At yr 7 graduation I won an award, it was the Aboriginal award. I even helped little ones in reception.

I was a Dance instructor at primary school & people’s parents came to me and had said that ‘My kid has came out of her/his shell thank you.’

early leaving students want to
Early-leaving students want to:
  • Be treated with respect and encouraged to develop workable relationships with teachers and other students
  • Have a say in matters like school uniform
  • Be listened to and have their wishes/interests taken into account in choice of subjects and scheduling of assignments
  • Be treated fairly and consistently in respect of discipline policies
  • Have issues of harassment by teachers and students taken seriously
  • Be empathetically listened to and heard regarding the complexity and individuality of their lives

Smyth, R., Hattam, R., Cannon, J., Edwards, J., Wilson, N. & Wurst, S. (2000). ‘Listen to me I’m leaving’: Early school leaving in South Australian secondary schools. Flinders Institute for the Study of Teaching; DETE SA; SSABSA: Published by University of South Australia.