Demand for school tutors jeopardizes program

The program, costing $480 million in 2021 and 2022, is supposed to provide small-group tutoring for students who needed help after long distance learning stints during the pandemic.

Students who struggled the most during the pandemic included those who already had low English skills or were at risk of disengaging from school, and those whose home environment was not conducive to online learning, the government said.

An earlier Deloitte report found a “positive correlation between tutor learning initiative and improved student outcomes”.

A government spokesperson said the program had been essential in getting students back on track and boosting their confidence as they returned from the difficult past two years.

To help schools cope with staffing shortages, the Victorian government has created a pool of retired teachers, final-year students and education department staff to work in classrooms. of class.

Rachel Smith, principal of St Joseph’s Primary School in Collingwood, said tutor Wendy Martin helped the children with schoolwork and social skills.

“Having that extra person really helps,” Smith said. “I think the byproduct of that [tutoring] coming back from COVID and isolation helps children relearn how to work in groups, face to face.

“While it wasn’t a goal for the bands, it was a natural occurrence as we progressed.”

Julie Sonnemann, who led the Grattan Institute’s research into COVID remedial tutoring, said schools could integrate small group lessons into classrooms next year, whether or not the program continues.

“After the great period of innovation in tutoring in 2021-2022, an important next step is to identify and rigorously test the most promising tutoring models for the Australian context,” she said.

“For example, trials can test what types of course materials and teaching approaches have worked best, or what conditions best help trainee teachers act as tutors, or whether online tutoring can work well. for regional and remote students.”

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Wendy Powson, principal of Lilydale High School in Melbourne’s far east, said although the program has been hit by staff shortages, she hopes it will continue into next year.

“I am aware that many schools have had to reassign tutors to classrooms due to staffing shortages. There are often positions that have been advertised three times with no candidates and a shortage of occasional substitute teachers,” she said.

“However, there is a redeployment of regional staff who can be contacted, who have assisted with the CRT [casual relief teaching] situation.”

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Ryan H. Bowman