A low educational level and poor standards of living are two factors which militate against the successful assimilation of any minority group. From time to time, statements have been made-not necessarily based on objective evidence -about the very low attainments of aboriginal children. Various organisations today are concerning themselves with the present status of aborigines and the need to assimilate them into the white community. With these considerations in mind we set out to evaluate the school attainments of aboriginal children and also to form some picture of their home conditions and general background.
Three groups of aboriginal children were studied: (1) those attending schools in which they formed a very small minority; (2) those who formed a larger minority in schools; (3) children in mission stations and reserves where there were no white children attending mission schools.
For Group (1) information was gathered mainly from questionnaires completed by the teaching staff of selected schools in which only a few aboriginal children were enrolled. Further details were also obtained from the results of standardized attainment tests administered to these children.
University field workers from the Faculty of Education visited the schools in groups (2) and (3), administered tests and gathered further detailed information beyond the scope of that collected from methods employed in relation to group (1). The homes of the aboriginal children were visited and parents were interviewed for the purpose of obtaining information on their attitudes towards the school, towards aspects of education in general and towards the European society in which they lived.
Some assessment was made of the influence of security, cultural background and social status on the school attitudes and attainments of the aboriginal pupils.
To learn about the children in group (3) the field workers stayed on the native reserves for continuous periods. Tests were administered and detailed observations made on the spot. Children's school progress was assessed and educational curricula were discussed with superintendents and teachers. In these situations where the contact of aborigines with Europeans was limited to that made with executives and supervisors, comparisons were made with the school work of aboriginal pupils outside the settlements, where contact with the European community was very much wider….