Bodies supporting underprivileged and special needs students have welcomed the Vic government’s deployment of 4100 tutors to support learning in 2021.
Amaze, which is the peak body representing autistic students and Teach for Australia both said the initiative was a step in the right direction.
According to Amaze CEO Fiona Sharkie, “Autistic students, and students with disability more broadly, have been disproportionately impacted by schooling disruptions due to the pandemic and remote learning this year.
“For the tutor program to deliver the best and fairest outcomes, it is essential that special consideration be given to ensure autistic students can access the additional support in an inclusive and accessible way.
“This needs to be coupled with updated Individual Learning Plans and active Student Support Groups for autistic students to ensure they have the right adjustments to enable them to learn and participate in school life."
Amaze also recommended that autism training be available for any of the 4100 tutors who may require it.
“It’s essential that tutors who will be supporting autistic students are equipped with the training, knowledge and understanding for how to best engage with autistic students and deliver much needed learning support,” Ms Sharkie added.
Teach For Australia’s CEO Melodie Potts Rosevear was also enthusiastic, “We know that students who were already experiencing disadvantage in their education are the ones most affected by learning loss this year and it is absolutely vital that concentrated effort is made to get those children back on track.
Teach For Australia works exclusively with schools serving low socio-economic communities and Ms Potts Rosevear said TFA’s partner schools and teaching associates were acutely aware that many of the most vulnerable students had additional struggles this year.
“We know our teachers and partner schools worked around the clock, quite literally, to support their students but the stark reality is they were responding to problems and issues that were far less significant – even negligible – for schools in more advantaged communities.
“This year proved teachers to be the heroes we always believed them to be but they don’t have magic powers and they need this additional support and investment now that face-to-face classes have resumed.
“In our work already with The Tutor Network and from overseas experiences, we know tutoring in small groups is most effective when it is embedded within schools and is in line with learning objectives identified by the teachers who know their students’ needs, rather than standalone arrangements that happen outside of the school gate.
“Education in the era of Covid-19 has shone new light on the depth of education inequity in Australia and we cannot ignore it. We owe it to these students to do everything we can to get their learning back on track.
“Here at TFA, we hope initiatives like today’s tutoring investment are just the beginning of the collective work needed to improve support for students who battle education disadvantage every day.”
The Tutor Network (TTN) co-founder Belinda Harries also welcomed the announcement and said TTN would be keen to work with Victoria's Department of Education and Training on shared interests to support students who are experiencing education disadvantage.
"TTN is rolling out tutoring in an evidence-based way with impact assessment to ensure efforts and investments not only help students catch up, but also enhance their learning engagement in the longer term."
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