Vision and Mission Statements

Vision Statement

The focus of education is to provide students with equal access to experiences and opportunities that deliver high quality academic development, support students in the pursuit of their passions, enhance creative thinking, and motivate them to achieve their personal goals.

Teachers are the front line workers within every community who need to be able to access reliable communication and professional development to consistently meet the needs of their students thus enabling them to become positive and flexible contributors in the world of the future.

Schools must endeavour to be proactive in providing students with a safe and modern learning environment that balances academic achievement with social development and personal strength.

Mission Statement

The Space for Learning is a blog that highlights and discusses important issues with teachers who are tasked with providing an empowering and purposeful educational journey for 21st century learners.

These discussions enable teachers to share information relating to the latest research and data that assists with assessment, planning and implementing programs.

Links that promote and describe valuable resources reduce the amount of time a teacher spends trying to discover new ideas and tools for their classrooms.

Successful teaching strategies including inclusive education, technology and classroom design are discussed and feedback is given to support teachers as they broaden their repertoire of skills.

Schools can access concise information that summarises detailed research into learning spaces and their impact on student engagement and success. This information can influence funding decisions and changes to the curriculum, facilities and resources used within the school.

The Future Learning Space is dedicated to understanding and providing for students who come from refugee backgrounds. The comprehensive resources assist teachers and schools in ensuring that they are prepared to face the unique challenges and opportunities that comes with meeting the needs of these new Australians.

Finally, The Space for Learning is a place to ponder (and squiggle). To read, listen or watch and then take some time to consider your own views and hats as a teacher of 21st century learners. Pondering or daydreaming is a powerful tool that allows the mind to wander, consider new ideas and envision a future that all people want to engage in.

21st Century Refugees – Their Future, Their Impact

Melissa Fleming shares her knowledge of the plight of refugees using real stories that illustrate what might happen if refugees are left forgotten and isolated in camps and as unwanted peoples in foreign countries ( It serves as a reminder of the responsibility developed and peaceful countries have in regards to ensuring that refugees have a purposeful future, where ever they settle in the world.

Jethro Mullen wrote an excellent article that reminds us of the impact that a refugee can have on the world if they are given the chance to contribute. He demonstrates how the liminal experience of having to flee their homelands they have worked to improve their own lives and the lives of their families, whilst following their dreams and changing the way people think about humans all over the world. A common thread in those that Mullen discusses is their desire to work towards positive changes for their homeland.

James Miller wrote a similar article but focused on those whose work was recognised with a Nobel Prize. He outlines both their struggles, achievements and the influence they had on the world as we know it today. It is striking to consider what the world would have lost if these people had been forgotten and turned away from safe countries.

Amnesty International shares the story of Khaled and his family. Khaled and his wife Rhamia brought their six children to Australia in 2013. They were unsure at first but are now reaping the benefits of living in such a safe and welcoming country. They left behind wealth, memories and friends and they suffered along the way but now they know that their future is in Australia. Looking at their children, it is easy to start daydreaming about the positive impact they will certainly have during their lives, whether it be in raising their own family, through professional pursuits or by being a generous members of the wider community, it is clear that Australia has just gained another eight grateful and motivated people.

Whether it is Steve Jobs, whose parents fled from Syria or Khaled and his family, it is clear that the vast majority of refugees are desperate to protect their families and move to safer ground. In welcoming them, we stand to gain people with the drive and determination to make the world a better place. Their lives and potential won’t be lost and countries like Australia will benefit both now and into the future.

Amnesty International. (2015). From Syria to Sydney: a story of hope. Retrieved from:

Fleming, M. (2014). How to help refugees rebuild their world. TED Global. Retreived from:

Miller, J. (2013). 10 Refugees Who Changed The World. Global Post. Retreived from:

Mullen, J. (2015). Refugees who changed the world. CNN. Retrieved from:

The Role of the Educator

Teachers have always worn many hats: counsellor, nurse, time keeper, negotiator, cheerleader, tutor, detective, resource developer, comedian, drill sergeant, attentive listener, role model… I should go on, I feel like I am short changing the profession if I don’t, but I think you get my point.

Teachers of refugee students can find themselves out of their depths but there are many community services and information resources to assist teachers in providing purposeful and successful learning programs for their new students.

Ames Australia ( is one of many organisations that offer programs, facilities and support for new Australians with the aim of helping them to settle in Australia. Their vision is “full participation for all in a cohesive and diverse society.” They can assist families in many ways from language acquisition to job security. They also help to provide families with mentors and community connections.

The Refugee Council of Australia ( is a not for profit, charity run organisation that is “centred around five key areas: policy, support for refugees, support for its members, community education and administration”. They provide resources for teachers that assist them in supporting refugee students with access to community programs, planning of suitable lessons, selecting appropriate games and activities and providing links to general information.

Roads to Refuge ( “is designed to give students, teachers and the community access to relevant, factual and current information about refugees” by providing information and links to programs and resources that are available throughout the country.

Queensland Program of Assistance to Survivors of Torture & Trauma ( has produced a fantastic resource that alerts teachers to the various trauma responses that students may experience, community and government agencies that offer assistance, strategies for diversification and a checklist for teachers and schools to use to ensure they are meeting the needs of the student and their family.
Windle and Miller (Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, Vol. 35, No. 3, 2012, pp. 317–333) outline many teaching approaches for refugee students with high literacy needs. They “suggest that providing teachers with additional time, resources and strategies should be directed at building student autonomy, particularly through greater opportunities for practice…(with a focus on) scaffolding through written resources and to the popularity of teacher-focused activities.”
With the marvels of modern technology, researching information, strategies and supports for students has become a relatively quick and effective way of broadening a teachers repertoire so they can meet the needs of all of their students.

Educating Refugees

Education in Australia is all about opportunities. Teachers are tasked with providing all students equal access to opportunities that will enrich their educational journey and lead them to become, as stated in the Melbourne Declaraion: successful learners, confident and creative individuals and active and informed citizens. In practice this means identifying the academic needs of each student whilst supporting them in pursuing their passions and achieving their personal goals.

Shanahan reminds teachers to “consider what education we are hoping to deliver…(by) encouraging refugees tomake real progress towards creating a future for themselves”. The focus must not be merely on academic progress, although this is of great importance in the Syrian Culture, it must also support the student, their family and community in adjusting to the change that has been thrust upon them, whilst fostering a sense of purpose and big picture thinking to encourage to make changes as leaders of the future.

Teachers must realise that they are on the front line of welcoming and supporting the Syrian Refugees. The relationship the teacher builds with the student and his/her family will form a first impression of life in Australia and directly impact on how enthusiastically these new Australians accept challenges and seize opportunities.

Education, E. (2008). Melbourne declaration on educational goals for young Australians. Carlton South, Vic: Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs.

Shanahan, K (2015). Forum 10a: Unlocking Education in the Liminal Space, Clouds Over Sidra. Australian Catholic University.

Educational Capital

Pierre Bourdieu developed many theories relating to the inner workings of society, but it is his use of the term capital (social and cultural) that has had the most impact and is now being used for broader applications, such as educational capital. When Bourdieu discussed social and cultural capital, he focused on the impact that the dominant class has on the social and cultural prospects of an individual that “can produce or reproduce inequality and also serve as a leveling mechanism that fosters opportunity” (Boundless). Educational capital asks educators to consider how they allocate resources, facilities and their attention according to the demographic, experiences and attitudes of their students. Teachers must also ask: What is already within this students that will either hinder or promote their learning?

The concept of What’s In Their Bags can be modified to ask: “What is in their minds?” so that teachers of refugee students can harness the power of the student’s prior knowledge and life experiences. By doing this, the student doesn’t have to sweep away the memories (good or bad) of their homeland and can build upon these to find a sense of purpose in their current educational journey. It may be in the form of projects that are designed to discuss solutions that end the conflict that forced them out of their country or to rebuild their towns and cities. Other ideas include creating a scrapbook of positive memories that can inspire new experiences in Australia or exploring communication technologies to connect with mentors in the refugee community.

A successful future learning space will foster understanding of the students experiences and value what they have brought with them, whilst providing high quality academic education that empowers them to be an agent of change for a positive future both here in Australia and over in their homeland.

Boundless. “Intelligence and Inequality.” Boundless Sociology. Boundless, 21 Jul. 2015. Retrieved from
Howard, V., Mclaughlin, T., & Vacha, E. (1996). Educational capital: A proposed model and its relationship to academic and social behavior of students at risk. Journal of Behavioral Education, 6(2), 135-152.
Sullivan, A. (2002). Bourdieu and education: How useful is Bourdieu’s theory for researchers? Netherlands Journal of Social Sciences, 38(2), 144-166

Australia’s Educational Facilities

The Australian education system is seen as one of the finest in the world. Sure it has faults – thank God, as we wouldn’t want to stop trying to make it better – but an overall view reveals modern learning facilities, relevant resources and technologies with highly trained and passionate teachers implementing individualised programs. Schooling is free and compulsory for children aged 5.5 – 16 years.

The Australian Curriculum rationale focuses on “improving the quality, equity and transparency of Australia’s education system” with the aim of achieving successful learners, confident and creative individuals and active and informed citizens, as outlined in the Melbourne Declaration of Education Goals for Young Australians.

In an individual school these aims are addressed by a team of teachers who assess the needs of each child and program accordingly. The class sizes are less than 30 students who have diverse backgrounds, strengths and needs. The student’s loved ones are encouraged to actively participate in the student’s educational journey although this is not compulsory. Teachers provide feedback regarding the progress of the student before new goals and programs are designed. Most schools are taking advantage of the vast technology resources that are available so there is less repetition of content and concepts and greater opportunities for exploration and self-direction under the supervision of the teacher.

Individual school use research and data specific to their needs of their students and community to make changes that will improve attendance, interest and retention. Many schools, especially those in the major cities and towns of Australia have been successfully educating students who upon their arrival in Australia for decades and as Australia has experienced many waves of refugees throughout it’s modern history, these schools are well versed at implementing various programs that support students in their transition to Australia.

Now that there is greater access to reliable information, new technologies and communication devices, Australian schools are amongst the most capable providers of successful educational programs and resources for refugees because the teachers are quick to identify needs and the school can alter the learning space and curriculum to match the needs and interests of all students, with the support of the various government departments across the country.

ACARA, Australian Curriculum. (2015). Retrieved from

Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2015, September 14). Retrieved from Subject/1301.0~2012~Main Features~Primary and secondary education~105

Education, E. (2008). Melbourne declaration on educational goals for young Australians. Carlton South, Vic: Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs.

Schools in Australia. (n.d.). Retrieved October 27, 2015, from

Australia – Lucky or Liminal?

The old proverb “one man’s meat is another man’s poison” has many variation but the meaning remains constant: Just because you think something is great doesn’t mean other people will agree.

I was born in Australia and grew up taking all that I had for granted until I went traveling to countries that I perceived as less fortunate than mine. I saw what life was like for other people who didn’t win the place-of-birth lottery. Whenever I returned from an overseas adventure, I was always struck by the beauty and safety and tolerance that seems unique to Australia – no matter what city or town I lived in. Australia is one man’s meat, mine.

I find it hard to understand how any person who has lived elsewhere would find Australia anything other than heaven. Surely the relief of landing here after fleeing the hell that their homeland has become would douse any homesickness or reluctance to seek and accept opportunities. Surely Australia really is the lucky country.

Yesterday, I read the article titled He Gave Me Wings in the Weekend Australian Magazine (Oct 24-25, 2015). It is about Malala Yousafzai, the young girl who was shot in the head by the Pakistani Taliban for speaking out about the rights of girls to access education. The article focuses on her relationship with her father, Ziauddin, and his life as an activist. Since the attack and her amazing UK sponsored recovery, the family have moved to Birmingham. They can’t go back to Pakistan but they are able to take their small localised movement against the Taliban onto the global stage. In the discussion on what life has become for himself and his family, Ziauddin says “I love the UK, it’s a great country and I am very grateful. I’ve even got used to the rain. But I didn’t choose it for myself. I am struggling … It’s like a man who plants a tree for himself, tends it until it grows and wants to sit under its shade … If someone tells me, you will die in any other part of the world, this would kill me.” These are profound words from a highly educated and worldly person who knows the full and unending impact of living in exile. For him, Australia would be poison.

Life must have a purpose and when an individual feels that life is out of their control because they are not working towards their goals and ultimate purpose in the way they choose then even heaven can become a liminal space. For these people, Australia is a liminal space and for many it will always be so.

From an educators perspective, teachers have the power and responsibility to provide their liminal students with the necessary skills and revolutionary attitudes that will motivate them in the short term and enable them to change the fortunes of future generations in the longer term. It is in working towards a greater purpose that teachers empower their students and transform their perspective of Australia from liminal to lucky.