A study has shown the long path ahead to delivering the best education services to indigenous communities.

Researchers have analysed the NAPLAN results of over 200 schools in outback communities as part of the five-year Remote Education Systems Project. Senior research fellow Sam Osborne says he can find no link between attendance and results at the schools, highlighting the need to think re-think the approach to teaching in the bush.

“There really isn't any established relationship between attendance and outcomes in NAPLAN results in very remote schools,” he said.

The attempts of various state and federal education boards to boost attendance in the remote schools of South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory will certainly have improved outcomes for many, but over the last five years the report has found no measurable increase in academic results.

Education experts say it shows the need to think about more than just getting kids to attend school.

Flinders University Professor John Halsey says national standards are one thing, but education in remote and indigenous communities needs to be approached differently.

Prof Halsey says authorities need to: “look at how we capture what it is students are learning in all kinds of contexts, like out in the community, like out in the bush, like at ceremony.”

“We also need to reconceptualise what learning might look like and how it might operate,” he said.

The current phase of the study should be complete by 2016.

More information is available from the Remote Education Systems Project site