After completing his degree and PhD at Cambridge University, Martin moved to Oxford University as a Fellow of Lincoln College. A winding career path through the biotech industry and several science innovation and education organisations returned him to Oxford University as the Deputy Director of the Institute for the Future of the Mind. He and his family moved to South Australia in 2007 where he took up the position of inaugural Director of the Flinders Centre for Science Education in the 21st Century and then Strategic Professor in the Science of Learning at Flinders University. After five years as a board director of the South Australian Certificate of Education, Martin took up the position as Chief Executive of SACE at the start of 2018 with a vision to transform learning design for students across South Australia.

In all his academic, educational and leadership roles, Martin Westwell has made significant contributions to the design and thinking about the teaching of Science. He is also recognised for his work as a leading thinker, researcher and presenter in the science and neuroscience of learning itself and his work has influenced curriculum design, pedagogy and assessment at a national and international level.

Belonging in a Changing World

What can we do to create a sense of belonging for young people in our classrooms?

A sense of belonging helps connect students to their learning and strongly influences their level of achievement. The changing world is having a negative impact on young Australian’s sense of belonging to school and it does so in a highly inequitable way.

What would education look like if developing a sense belonging were a strategic focus alongside other priorities such as developing deep understand and skilful action? What’s the role of authentic student agency? What can we learn from research evidence and from the evidence of educators in Australia?

When we use technology to mediate learning relationships the unspoken rules of our interactions change and a sense of belonging is under threat. Other sectors are learning what a difference “Virtual Distance” can make to their work and people’s creativity, trust, engagement and sense of belonging.

What does this mean for our own schools and classrooms, whether it’s face-to-face or learning online?