Education has the potential to be truly transformative, particularly for students experiencing complex disadvantage. Anglicare Victoria's TEACHaR program seeks to 'close this education gap' for students living in out-of-home care (OOHC) who experience particular educational disadvantage.
The program is highly aspirational, and recognises that a great education can provide a gateway to a brighter future.
One in six school-age children/young people in care aren't enrolled in school. More than half have developmental delays/learning difficulties. Fifty per cent are below national numeracy/literacy benchmarks.
Cross-referencing of NAPLAN and Child Protection data shows students in care significantly underperform the students generally in all of reading, writing, grammar/punctuation, spelling and numeracy. By Year 10 many are disengaged from learning with only ten per cent undertaking Year 12; and far fewer advance to tertiary study or achieve other qualifications.
Around 50% of all young people who leave care become homeless and/or unemployed and/or a new parent and/or incarcerated within 12 months.
Aims & objectives
Our goals are to improve engagement with learning and the academic skills and achievements of children in care. Specifically to:
- increase school attendance and engagement with learning
- improve attitude to learning, including happiness at school and work ethic
- increase overall academic achievement, including numbers achieving literacy and numeracy benchmarks
- improve the capacity of schools to support these children/young people, and
- improve the home learning environment.
TEACHaR employs registered teachers with a range of classroom, special needs and senior teaching experience. Our teachers provide practical, flexible, one-to-one support to children and young people in their OOHC care and school settings.
The program model is highly collaborative, working closely with teachers and school staff, carers, case managers, care teams, and government agencies. This is vital to strengthening the translation of the model into practice and harnessing all efforts towards achieving better outcomes for students.
We provide information, in-class support and professional development to teachers and schools, particularly with respect to the impact of trauma and maltreatment on learning and behaviour in the classroom.
Our teachers also undertake education advocacy, particularly at critical points such as placement changes, new school transitions and new enrolments, or periods of school breakdown.
For all students in OOHC who have received 12 months support during the first three years of the program:
- those achieving literacy and numeracy benchmarks more than doubled to around 50% in each case
- those with 'average or above academic achievement' rose from 24.3% to 57.3%
- those 'always or usually actively engaged in learning' rose from 54.7% to 73.8%
- those not attending school dropped from 15.7% to 3.7%, and
- those attending full-time rose from 66.3% to 76.8%.
The program's success also lies in the students' personal stories. For one young man in residential care, success has meant realising his considerable academic potential despite facing significant ongoing challenges. His confidence and aspirations have grown, and VCE and university are now achievable.
Not all children/young people supported will experience this same outcome, but we are proud of the individual successes and the outcomes the program continues to achieve.
Since commencement in 2013, TEACHaR has supported over 250 students and over 600 teachers and other school staff. Student outcomes include improved school attendance and engagement, strengthened learning confidence and aspiration, and key academic gains.
Our achievement is the demonstrated improved academic outcomes of students in care.
Key learnings which are vital to success include:
- Employing experienced registered teachers
- Integrating responses across school and care settings
- Being flexible and tailoring interventions for each student
- Co-locating teachers within care teams
- Taking time to build relationships with each child/young person – trust is integral
- Working collaboratively with schools communities
- Ensuring all stakeholders have high aspirations for each student's educational achievement
- Supporting new school enrolments, and
- Budgeting funds to purchase educational supports and resources.
Dennis Sherwell (Grants Coordinator) & Laura David (Research Officer)
"The Foundation is delighted with the outcomes of the TEACHaR project. The project strongly aligns with the objectives of The Alec Prentice Sewell Gift providing practical education support to disadvantaged young people living in foster care to increase the likelihood of their reaching their full potential. This model is demonstrably changing the life trajectory of the young people engaged. We are pleased to see that it is continuing and expanding into the Gippsland Region and the Loddon Catchment in 2017."
Nicole Bortone, Program Manager