Increasing social cohesiveness in a school environment
Australian children who begin school at risk of failing are more likely to come from disadvantaged and lower socio-economical areas (AEDI 2009). A national population measure, the Australian Early Development Index (AEDI), has been completed with 95 per cent of Australian children as they enter school, and has found that 23.6 per cent of Australian children are vulnerable in one or more areas of development. Developmental vulnerability refers to children who score in the lowest 10 per cent of the AEDI checklist, which is filled in by their teachers using the domains of: physical health and wellbeing; social competence; emotional maturity; language and cognitive skills for school; and communication/general knowledge. Developmental vulnerability is compounded by socio-economic disadvantage, with 32 per cent of children living in the most socio-economically disadvantaged areas being developmentally vulnerable in one or more AEDI domains. Children who are developmentally vulnerable are at risk of failure in their schooling, and this has long-term consequences for lack of employment, poor health and wellbeing, and social exclusion from community in adulthood (Justice and Pullen 2003; Walker et al. 2005; Gagnon et al. 2007; Pungello et al. 2009).