New research reveals students who change schools several times are more likely to underperform in literacy and numeracy, as well as drop out of school.
The report, released by the NSW Department of Education’s centre for education statistics and evaluation, showed that more than 54,000 students change schools at least once a year.
The study used enrolment data from 2008-2014 and identified student mobility as “a significant issue for NSW Government schools”, warning that it was shown to have “a detrimental impact on student outcomes".
“Compared to stable students with similar backgrounds and levels of prior achievement, mobile students achieve lower reading and numeracy results and are more likely to leave school prior to completing Year 12,” the report said.
Using NAPLAN data, the study found that students who moved three or more times between kindergarten and Year 3 had reading scores almost 80 points below stable students.
Even changing schools once saw students underperform in reading and numeracy tests by Year 3, the study found, and at least one in eight schools experience high levels of student mobility.
Schools in the western and northern areas of the state were shown to have the highest mobility rates, with about 13% of NSW schools experiencing high levels of “enrolment churn”.
“For schools experiencing high rates of enrolment churn, mobility could be a significant barrier to schools' ability to provide coherent learning and support, and to implement a school reform agenda,” the report said.
NSW Secondary Principals' Council president, Lila Mularczyk, told The Sydney Morning Herald that the research showed why supporting the well-being of transient students was crucial.
“Mobility can be really difficult for children and can often interrupt their learning, so it is important that we focus not only on their education but also their well-being,” Mularczyk said.
“For young people, especially teenagers, being connected to a friendship group is very important and when a child or children are mobile we need to make absolutely sure they feel connected.”