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Count us in! The growing role of learning support programs in achieving education outcomes for disadvantaged students Anne Pate Research Officer, Research & Social Policy Unit August 2007. What are Learning Support Programs?. Out-of-school hours homework or tutoring assistance

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Count us in!The growing role of learning support programs in achieving education outcomes for disadvantaged studentsAnne PateResearch Officer, Research & Social Policy UnitAugust 2007

What are learning support programs
What are Learning Support Programs?

  • Out-of-school hours homework or tutoring assistance

  • May be school provided or managed by community organisations

  • Offer group learning and/or one-to-one tutoring

  • Aim to improve educational outcomes for students of all ages/backgrounds

  • May include social and recreational activities to build confidence and attachment to learning

Evaluation of learning support programs
Evaluation of Learning Support Programs

Objective: To measure the outcomes of out-of-school hours community-based tutoring and homework assistance

provided by 4 of 7 MCM learning support programs in 2007


  • Mapping survey in late 2006 by phone interview with LSP providers in North & West regions of metropolitan Melbourne

  • Primary data collection of student participants during 2007

  • Interviews with school principals and specialist staff

  • Outcomes measurement with feedback from class teachers, tutors and students through 2007

Mapping survey findings overview
Mapping Survey Findings - Overview

  • 33 community based programs in N&W metro region, delivered by 20 auspice agencies

  • over 1,300 students enrolled in 2006 and 800 regular attendees (weekly)

  • coverage across 26 suburbs (CBD, inner to outer areas)

  • 74% include primary school aged children

  • 52% target students from refugee or CALD backgrounds

  • 43 staff employed

  • over 1,270 volunteers

Key findings community managed lsp s in nw melbourne student participation in 2006
Key Findings – Community managed LSP’s in NW Melbourne: Student participation in 2006

  • Over 1300 enrolments in operating programs

  • 52% of LSP’s catered for up to 20 students

  • 10% have over 100 enrolled students

  • Over 800 regular (weekly) attendees

  • Average attendance rate of 62% of enrolments

  • High attendance rate (92%) at programs targeting primary school students

Key findings community managed lsp s in nw melbourne growth in student participation
Key Findings – Community managed LSP’s in NW Melbourne: Growth in student participation

Comparison of enrolments between first year and 2006

For the 25 programs with documented first year enrolment data: fourfold increase since start-up

Key findings community managed lsp s in nw melbourne program operations
Key Findings – Community managed LSP’s in NW Melbourne: Program operations

  • 74% offer one session of tuition/support per week

  • 1:1 tutor-student ratio ideal, but group activities and shared tutors common

  • Focus on homework assistance, exam preparation for older secondary students

  • Emphasis on general learning, literacy, numeracy and building commitment to learning for primary age students

  • Venues include community halls/neighbourhood houses (25%); school premises (22%), libraries (19%) and community agencies (19%)

  • 80% of LSP’s used volunteers as tutors

  • Over 1,270 volunteers assisted programs in 2006

  • 38% are university students; 26% have a teaching qualification and 15% are high school students

Key findings community managed lsp s in nw melbourne program operations 2
Key Findings – Community managed LSP’s in NW Melbourne: Program operations (2)

  • 81% have developed a relationship with local school(s)

  • 75% accepted referrals from schools

  • No program in receipt of ongoing DoE funding, but 30% received grants from State Government sources (eg. SFYS)

  • 40% funded by internal agency resources

  • 15% funded by local government

  • Respondents highlighted the lack of recurrent funds and reliance on donations to continue

Key learnings
Key Learnings Program operations (2)

  • Growth:

    • Community based LSP’s are emerging to fill a real local need for learning support in Melbourne

    • Broad coverage across all ages and backgrounds, including primary ages, new migrants and disadvantaged children

  • Sustainability:

    • Resource constraints impact on sustainability despite provider confidence (79%)

    • Lack of infrastructure poses risks to quality and outcomes

    • Challenges in recruiting volunteers ongoing

    • Coordination with schools is critical

Key learnings 2
Key Learnings (2) Program operations (2)

  • Program Outcomes:

    • Little evaluation undertaken to date

    • Literature indicates substantial improvement in student learning outcomes (eg UK and Aust)

    • Perception of respondents that programs improve education outcomes and strengthen student commitment/interest in learning

    • Schools gain benefits through building relationships with community support organisations

Policy implications
Policy Implications Program operations (2)

  • LSP’s in Melbourne appear to be playing an important role in improving education outcomes for children in disadvantaged circumstances

  • Governments have recognised the critical importance of education as both an economic and social investment (eg. education targets and strategies), but need to focus more on the 10-15% at most risk

  • Policy reforms and program developments need to take into full account the factors leading to poor outcomes for ‘at risk’ groups, such as:

    - new migrant, asylum seeker, refugee children

    - lack of parental support or incapacity

    - homeless families and young adults

Policy implications1
Policy Implications Program operations (2)

Community based approaches appear to offer a valuable option that:

- links schools with local community organisations

- provides an alternative external option to schools to enable individual student catch-up

- exposes students to alternative positive learning settings and role models

- engages parents in their child’s learning

- opens up access to other community resources (IT, libraries)

Thank you
Thank you Program operations (2)

Copies of our report

A Profile of Learning Support Programs in North-West Melbourne

may be obtained from:

Melbourne Citymission website:

or phone (03) 8625-4468