Document Type

Journal Article




Faculty of Computing, Health and Science


School of Psychology




This article was originally published as: Stumpers, S. A., Breen, L. J., Pooley, J. , Cohen, L. , & Pike, L. (2005). A critical exploration of the school context for young adolescents completing primary education. Community, Work & Family, 8(3), 251-270. Original article available here. ‘This is an electronic version of an article published in Community, Work & Family, 8(3), 251-270. The article in Community, Work & Family is available online at:


Many schools have adopted relational approaches to attend to the social context in which learning transpires. More recently however, such approaches and their supporters have been criticized for not examining the school context in its entirety and the student experience within this context. The current research sought to critically explore young adolescents' experiences within the context of their school. Fifteen year seven students in an Australian primary school were interviewed about their experiences of their school context. The data were analysed using a thematic analysis and a question-ordered matrix was constructed to aid the detection of themes and sub-themes from the data. Three major themes were identified as a result. These included: the people within the school context, the social roles of the adolescents', and the values the school espouses. These findings suggest that there are a number of factors in addition to relational aspects within the school context that impact on young adolescents. This exploratory qualitative study offers a 'counter adult-centric' view of young adolescents' experiences within their school. It also illustrates the potential value in transforming the school context to provide opportunities to experience influence, responsibility, self-determination, meaningful participation and community within the school.



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