Volunteers An Advantage For Schools And Students

19:55' 21-11-2017
A program run by the Ardoch Youth Foundation to improve learning outcomes at disadvantaged schools has produced evidence that volunteers make a huge positive difference.

    Two students read books in their classroom.

    Photo: abc.net.au

    A school is described as disadvantaged for many reasons. It may be a small school, in a small community, or in a remote location. It can also refer to a school whose children come from families disadvantaged by low income or other factors, including poor English language skills.

    This does not mean the school, its teachers or its programs are in any way poor. It only means there are more obstacles to educational achievement for the students.

    One way of overcoming these obstacles is to invite volunteers to help out, especially in areas such as literacy and numeracy training. The Ardoch Youth Foundation, supported by donors, runs a volunteer program at 40 disadvantaged schools.

    At one such school, Dinjerra Primary School, in Melbourne's western suburb Braybrook, many of the students speak English as a second language. Volunteers spend two hours a week, every week, giving students one-on-one attention to improve their skills. This is time that a class teacher cannot afford, and is the sort of help that students may not get at home.

    The work of volunteers has produced noticeable results. After six months working with volunteers, teachers claim two thirds of Dinjerra students have produced better academic results than expected, with four out of five showing greater confidence in their ability to learn.

    The school's newsletter, reporting on Literacy Week in September, said students had read over 4000 books as part of the Premiers Reading Challenge, and “everyone was carrying a poem in their pocket to read when asked”.

    Ardoch CEO Kylee Bates says there is clear evidence that the foundation's work is successful, and hopes the government can be persuaded to provide funding to keep the work going and expand its reach.

    Marcia G

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Keywords: ardoch youth foundationenglish language skillsstudents

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