More funding to help students catch up

The NSW Government has announced the extension of the COVID Intensive Learning Support Program into next year as Kindergarten and Year 1 students returning to Central Coast schools for face-to-face learning this week.

Hundreds more primary students in other grades are set to return on October 25.

Minister for Education, Sarah Mitchell, said a further $383M would see the program extended.

It was first introduced in Term 1 this year to help students who had fallen behind after last year’s disruptions improve their core knowledge and skills.

Central Coast District P&C (CCDP&C) applauded the announcement.

“The program was very successful in supporting students after the loss of learning in the previous COVID lockdown environment,” CCDP&C spokesperson Sharryn Brownlee said.

“Due to the massive disruptions of home learning the injection of $383M into this program will help ensure no child slips though the cracks.

“It will ensure the resources schools need are available directly to them, to help the small groups of students and endure no further learning is lost.

“Schools have done their very best to stay connected with individual students and their families but for reasons such as complexities around ages and stages of learning, individual children and their siblings needs, family issues as well as technology issues have played a part in students falling behind and gaps in learning.

“This program helps ensures those gaps are analysed and rectified.

“It is reassuring for the Central Coast families and the wider community to see the new NSW government leadership team move quickly to build on successful programs and act quickly to support those in need.

“P&Cs are very pleased to see this injection of funds and look forward to a continuing focus on the educational needs of our community.”

Parliamentary Secretary for the Central Coast and Member for Terrigal, Adam Crouch, said the move would help students who had “slipped through the cracks”.

“Research shows that small group tuition, particularly in literacy and numeracy, makes a big difference at helping children catch up,” he said.

“All 52 public primary schools on the Central Coast will benefit from this $383M program as well as some Catholic and independent schools in areas of highest need.

“All of our public schools have already been benefitting since the COVID Intensive Learning Support Program commenced in Term 1 this year.

“7,500 additional casual teachers, retired teachers, final year University students and learning support staff will be employed across NSW to deliver this tuition.”

Premier Dominic Perrottet said 2021 had been a tough year, with many students learning from home for twice as long as they did last year.

“Early insights from the ongoing evaluation of the program show that students are bouncing back thanks to the intensive tutoring delivered through the program, and we are committed to helping them do so again next year,” he said.

The Department of Education will work with schools and key stakeholder groups during Term 4 to refine the program to ensure the greatest benefit is delivered for students who need it most.

Terry Collins