School social work and the human right to education
The Australian Educational Researcher
School of Arts and Humanities
The education rankings of Australian students continue to slide further down the international scale, yet the dominant discourse in relation to both the cause and solution to this perceived decline remains focused on funding, curriculum and teacher quality whilst failing largely to take account of the broader social contexts in which education takes place. Drawing on findings from recent research in primary schools in regional Australia, this paper raises the question of Australian school students’ human right to an education and explores the role that school social workers can play in upholding this right. Discussion draws on international research, including studies that examine the outcomes of employing suitably qualified School Social Workers who can foster links and networks between student, family, school and community. It is argued that these networks create social capital that can serve to enable students to benefit from both the education to which they are entitled, and the connections that may empower them, as they move into adult life.