While only four years into the ten-year project, 2022 marks the end of the Junior School component of the Barker Journey study. The Barker Journey, the flagship project of the Barker Institute, is a longitudinal study that tells an ongoing story of a group of Barker students making their way through school in the 21st century.

So what memories will stick with the students as they come towards an end to their time in the Barker Junior School? The available 152 students completed a survey in Week 2 of Term 3 which included the question “In one sentence, please describe one thing that you will remember most from your Barker Junior school experience”.

The responses were coded according to the following categories:

  • Sentiment: Positive, Neutral, Negative
  • Specifics:   Friends, Academics, Teachers, Camps, Music, Sport, Exhibition, Facilities, Orientation
  • Broader Kinds: Success, Events, Relationships, Facilities

Through this process three findings can already be reported:

1.    Barker students see the positives

91% shared a positive sentiment as their one memory that will stick with them. 4% shared negative memories, leaving 5% neutral or ambiguous. These students’ remembering self will enjoy fond memories of Years 3-6.

2.    They value people over places 

43% of students shared a memory where it was the relationships that were key. Most spoke of friends (“I will definitely remember my friends and the best times I have had with them e.g., going on camp with them or the first time I met them.”, “I remember my year 5 camp and how I made 3 amazing friends that I didn’t have before.”), but many also teachers (“My year 5 teacher and my year 3 teacher”). This contrasts the 1% of students who mentioned the facilities. In Year 3, these same students shared much more about the amazing facilities of Barker, marveling at the Rosewood Centre, playgrounds and fields, and the pool. Many of the key moments and events occurred in and because of these facilities (see point 3) but it is not the places, but the people who come together in these places that they will remember.

3.   Key Moments / Events feature strongly for the remembering self 

Most students, 68%, chose to share a specific event that stuck with them, which included either friendships (“The day I started barker and I met all my best friends.”, “I remember the time that I blocked my best friends layup in basketball while we were playing at lunch”) moments of success in the classroom, in leadership, or on the sporting field ( “Something I will remember is receiving my house captain badge earlier this year.”, “When is scored a three pointer in basketball”, “I got picked for AFL CIS”), or co-curricular activities including music, sport, or especially camps (“Year 5 camp”, “Year 2 camp because it was my first camp”, “The masterpiece concert”). There was wide variety in these responses revealing the immense value in every inspiring activity, as we would never know in advance which interaction or event will stick most firmly in the student’s mind.

One final interesting observation is that across most categories (sentiment, specifics, and broader kinds) there is very little distinction in responses of male and female students. The two exceptions include a slightly higher percentage of female students including a relational element in their most salient memory, and a slightly higher percentage of male students reporting a particular success.

The Barker Institute is grateful for the students who generously shared these responses, and the support of the Year 6 teachers and leaders in facilitating this data collection. We look forward to sharing more results in the future through blogs, journal articles and conference presentations.