Challenging schools offer best teaching rewards

Low socioeconomic (SES) schools offer the most rewarding work for dedicated teachers, according to an expert in how to teach disadvantaged students.

This includes children where English is not the first language or students living in poverty and/or abusive home environments.

Australian Catholic University’s Institute for Learning Sciences and Teacher Education Associate Professor Clarence Ng urged educators to “teach where the need is” saying contrary to the myths “disadvantaged schools offer excellent teaching rewards”.

“Many research studies have shown that students from challenging backgrounds may have low level reading, maths and social skills,” he said.

“But providing these children are given appropriate support, they really do want to learn, and can learn well.”

An eight year old student showing extreme reluctance to speak and a 12-year-old with very poor reading ability were just two of the learning challenges positively improved by the teaching methods developed by Associate Professor Ng.

“The most inspiring teachers I have come across are those that ‘leave the light on’ for disadvantaged students. They keep sowing inspiring ideas and they don’t give up on these young people.”

Associate Professor Ng has co-authored the book Empowering Engagement – Creating Learning Opportunities for Students from Challenging Backgrounds along with fellow authors Brendan Bartlett and Stephen N Elliott.

The publication examines how to promote engagement for children and adolescents from challenging contexts or who are dealing with challenging conditions. It concentrates on vulnerable groups: marginalised youths who have experienced repeated exclusion and sought their second chance in alternative education; children who are coming from economically, culturally, and linguistically disadvantaged backgrounds; and students with social or emotional issues.

Associate Professor Ng’s research projects on promoting engagement and learning among disadvantaged students have won funding support from the Australian Research Council and the Department of Education, Queensland.

Associate Professor Clarence Ng is available for interview.

Photograph available on request.

Media Contact: Liz Drew, 0419 506 690,

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