Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students and educational intentions - Insights from the literature


Supporting student aspirations to complete the HSC draws on a number of important factors. This resource uses a scoping review approach of the literature to distil the information from 30 years of research to lay out these factors and highlight key points that matter. Schools can use this resource as of the part of annual HSC results analysis, supporting student aspirations, through key transition stages such as subject selection and to support Personalised Learning Pathways development. Schools can also use this resource as a professional learning tool to seek guidance around implementing and developing evidence practice within the school, teaching and learning programs and pedagogy.

While there are general factors that matter, in terms of aspirations to complete the HSC, there is also particular guidance in the literature to support Aboriginal students. In the scoping review approach inclusion criteria are set to hone the literature search to answer guiding questions.

This resource answers these two guiding questions:

  1. The general - What are the main factors known to influence HSC completion?
  2. The specific - Are there points from the literature to inform support for Aboriginal students in completing the HSC?

The resource has two aims:

  1. To answer the guiding questions and,
  2. Model a process of using QDAI in a scoping review approach to the literature.

QDAI (Questions, Data, Analysis and Implications) is the scientific method, simplified to suit a range of needs, and its use to conduct a literature review is detailed in this resource.

Timeframe for use:

This resource can be accessed and utilised by all staff at any time.

Intended audience:

All NSW secondary school staff.

Instructions for use:

Any staff member who wants the distilled ideas from the scoped literature, please go straight to the implications section. For those who might like to understand and/or critique the process please review the whole QDAI process. There is broader information in the analysis section that may suit some readers and there are the reference articles listed for those who might like a deeper dive into the literature. Some articles are available as ‘open access’ on various websites, some may need to be obtained via the Departments library services (CESE Library ceselibrary@det.nsw.edu.au).

Two ‘must read/easy access to ideas’ articles are listed in front of the reference list.

Evidence base:

Alignment to system priorities and/or needs:
This resource has been designed and aligned to the following key drivers of Aboriginal Education:

Aboriginal Education Policy:
The department will improve lifelong learning pathways for Aboriginal learners. This will include transitions: from home to school, through primary and secondary education and from school into further study and employment. The department is also committed to increase the participation and retention of Aboriginal students in schools.

Closing the Gap:
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students achieve their full learning potential; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students reach their full potential through further education pathways and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth are engaged in employment or education.

Alignment to School Excellence Framework:
Learning Domain – Learning Culture, Wellbeing and Reporting; Teaching Domain – Professional Standards, Learning and Development; Leading Domain – Educational Leadership, School Planning, Implementation and Reporting, Management practices and processes.

Consulted with:
This fact sheet was produced in collaboration with the Aboriginal Education and Communities Directorate and Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation (CESE) library services.

Reviewed by:
Aboriginal Education and Communities Directorate.

Created/last updated:
November 2021/ December 2023.

Anticipated resource review date:
This resource will be reviewed in December 2024. To ensure ongoing improvement of this resource, feedback on this resource can be provided via the survey or QR code below.

Universal Resources - Aboriginal Education feedback survey QR code Universal Resources - Aboriginal Education feedback survey QR code


  • DoE

Business Unit:

  • Aboriginal Education and Communities
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