14 October 2021

'Unlocking the learning potential of incarcerated and low SES Young People'

presented by

Associate Professor Bronwyn Ewing


Professor Grace Sarra,

Queenland University of Technology

This seminar will present a project which is about unlocking the mathematics learning potential of Indigenous and low socioeconomic young people in one juvenile detention centre in Queensland.

It is about children and young people, who have been marginalised and or excluded from the education system. A system that is frequently touted as both the problem and the solution to young people’s involvement with the juvenile justice system (Pytash & Kosko, 2020). It is the product of our efforts to understand their mathematics teachers’ pedagogy used to address underachievement and disengagement with a view to re-engaging in education.

We describe a culturally responsive education for juvenile detention centres that will form the basis for a model of education for children and young people who are detained. Culturally Responsive Pedagogy (CRP) is as much about tearing down old structures and ways for thinking as it is about forming new ideas, new forms of social interaction, new ways to be inclusive of culture, new ways to discuss inequality and distribute wealth and resources, new ways to resist, new ways to maintain order and cultural safety, new ways to reach children trying to recover from education exclusion and failure, new ways to show Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and low socioeconomic children that they are loved in this world and that they matter, and new ways to establish an educational system that works for everyone, especially those who are put at the edges of classrooms and society like the children in juvenile detention centres.

Associate Professor Bronwyn Ewing is the Master of Teaching (Primary) course coordinator and leader of the STEM Education Research Group in the Faculty of Creative Industries, Education and Social Justice at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT). Bronwyn employs a transdisciplinary frame of study for her work and anchors most of it in theoretical approaches that emphasise pedagogical, contextual and multi-sensory influences on individual learning. She often uses mixed-method designs and is most intrigued by studies that lend themselves to application in real and lived settings of the population at hand. Her current research interests fall into three broad areas:

  • Juvenile detention, education exclusion
  • Culturally response pedagogy
  • Multi-sensory and multi-representational teaching and learning in special schools in Queensland

Professor Grace Sarra is an academic and a researcher within the School of Early Childhood and Inclusive Education in the Faculty of Education at Queensland University of Technology (QUT). She is of Aboriginal heritage from Bindal and Birri clan groups of the Birrigubba nation and Torres Strait Islander heritage of Mauar, Stephen and Murray Islands. Grace has 30 years of experience in teaching and leadership roles in schools and universities.

She has extensive experience working within schools in Indigenous and low socioeconomic communities and schools to improve educational outcomes through school change and leadership. She has been successful in receiving thirteen externally funded research projects including projects funded by the Australian Research Council, Industry and Government. Grace research in the fields of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education, early childhood, inclusive education, Indigenous young people and incarcerated youth in detention centres. Grace’s research work utilizes Indigenous knowledges and frameworks with theoretical frameworks to contest prevailing assumptions and stereotypes that contribute to the lack of success of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in schools and juvenile detention Centres.

Other events you may be interested in