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Sky-High Participation and Learning Breakthroughs | A Look at the Catch-Up Learning Program 2022

Late last year we were excited to announce that, based on the success of our pilot with The Smith Family’s Catch-Up Learning Program, our involvement in the initiative was expanding in 2022 by 500%. Fast forward six months and our team has been working madly behind the scenes to make the program happen for our latest cohort of students, their families, and our expanded network of tutors.

Six months into the 2022 edition of the program, we thought we’d check in with our program coordinator, Sarah, to see how things are going.

Hey Sarah! How has the Catch-Up Learning Program been going so far?

We have had an amazing start to the program for 2022, with almost 25,000 sessions completed already. Our tutors and students are absolutely thriving and have built strong relationships. Only coming onboard myself in November 2021, I couldn’t imagine being a part of a more remarkable and incredible program. We have been fortunate enough to utilise incredible software companies this year, like Sentral, Mathspace and Reading Eggs, to bring our program to life. The Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) has also been a fantastic program partner, supplying Progressive Achievement Tests (PATs) enabling us to track student progress.  

Here’s one of our tutors, Sally, talking about her favourite moment from the program. 

What does the program look like, for tutors and students?

The model of the program is for each student to do three one-hour sessions each week. With such a high number of tutors, we are able to allocate each tutor to only two students on average, which ensures every tutor can focus on developing a relationship with their students and the students’ family.  

Let’s talk about that participation rate. It’s great! Considering the program is for students at risk of falling behind in their studies, did you expect it to be this high?

We’ve seen a lot of growth since the launch of our pilot program last year. The number of students has increased by 500% from 100, and the level of student engagement has also been higher this year, due in part to changes in the way we communicate with students and their families.  

Based on the feedback we received last year, we know parents prefer text message reminders over phone calls or emails. With this in mind, we provided our tutors with a guideline of how and when to contact parents, which continues to help us throughout the program. As of week 16 we are overjoyed with both the attendance levels and engagement of the students thus far. 

You’ve only been a part of the program since November. What has been the most enjoyable part for you so far?

The most enjoyable and rewarding part of the program so far is seeing the connections grow so significantly with the tutors and their students. The children that are a part of this program face significant hardships which can ultimately affect their confidence and even trust in adults. During the first few weeks of the program, some students were not confident enough to be able to turn their camera or even microphone on. These students are now thriving in each session, and some are turning up early and eagerly awaiting their tutors at the start of each session – amazing! 

“Leading a program designed to help make a difference in the lives of so many students – it is an entirely different experience.”

– Sarah Hewlett, Catch-Up Learning Program Coordinator

Has anything surprised you?

Our team have been amazed at the support that the tutors are showing each other by offering resources, teaching techniques and even by offering to take on another student when a fellow tutor withdraws from the program. 

Working with disadvantaged students, there’s the potential to have some real breakthroughs. Can you share any good news stories with us?

We are currently in Week 16 of the Program and a tutor has shared with us this week that his Year 7 student was sitting at a Year 2 level for maths at the start of the program and has just received results showing that she achieved 86% on her maths assignment at school – unbelievable! 

That’s great to hear. How will you personally consider the program a success?

The main goal is to allow our students the opportunity to catch-up with the peers on an academic level. However, I would personally consider this program a success purely based on the confidence levels that are skyrocketing in the students with the help of their tutors. It is unbelievable to see the progress that the students have gained in such a short period of time just by learning to believe in themselves. It is something so simple, yet truly incredible to witness. 

“We are receiving amazing feedback from our tutors with how well both them and the students are enjoying the sessions and the great rapport that is already developing between them.”

– Sarah Hewlett, Catch-Up Learning Program Coordinator

Finally, we have an amazing group of tutors already onboard, but we continue to get a lot of interest from educators wanting to be a part of the program. Are you still taking tutor applications?

We have finished our recruitment for the program. However, we encourage all prospective tutors who have interest in joining, to keep their eyes peeled to join next year’s program! When recruitment begins, we will post across ClassCover’s social media platforms.

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