The philosophy of middle level education is to intentionally create a learning environment that supports every young adolescent. The literature around engagement points to the need for students to experience (among other requirements) a sense of belonging at school (SOBAS). When the need for belonging is not achieved there may be significant consequences, including an impact on intellectual performance, and hence, learning potential may not be achieved. Donna Pendergast discusses why students with marginalized identities see an intensification of factors that create challenges places them at-risk of disengaging and their sense of belonging at school is more likely to be compromised. Nurturing SOBAS is positively associated with the retention of students who are at-risk of dropping out of, thereby being an aspirational goal of education.
Image courtesy of interviewee