St Kilda PS and Ardoch Youth Foundation Partnership
Winner of National Schools First Award 2009
Ardoch Youth Foundation was established in 1988 and is a not for profit organisation that works nationally to make education a reality for children and young people, particularly those experiencing disadvantage who might otherwise be denied educational opportunities. Ardoch links schools, corporate organisations and communities, generating resources to support and facilitate projects that assist young people and their families, including those experiencing disadvantage.
Ardoch's Vision: Every child and young person's potential is realised through full participation in education.
To overcome barriers to full participation in education
To enable communities to support students in schools and early childhood centres
To advocate for systemic change that will make full participation in education a reality for all children and young people
The strategic aims of Ardoch Youth Foundation include:
To identify issues impacting education of children and young people and research solutions to make education a reality.
To develop, deliver and facilitate programs that enable access to all the benefits of education.
To raise community awareness about the social and economic barriers and their solutions faced by children and young people.
To generate and manage resources to make education more accessible, especially for vulnerable children and young people.
To shape and advocate solutions to government and other key stakeholders to make the full participation of education a reality for children and young people.
Ardoch and St Kilda Primary School have been in a successful partnership since July 1998. The school’s partnership with Ardoch recognises an opportunity to improve social and educational outcomes for children through a community model that draws on and builds strength in the community to provide services and support to children, their families and school professionals.
The partnership is based on research that demonstrates that effective schools have high levels of parental and community involvement and community and family involvement has been shown to have a direct relationship to improved student learning, attendance and behaviour regardless of the social or cultural background of the family.
From inception to the current day, the partnership has constantly and continually evolved and grown. Consultation between all groups – teaching staff, support staff, parents, welfare staff, leadership team and the Ardoch Project Coordinator has underpinned the progress and development of the program. The school community has changed significantly but the outcome sought by the partnership – that all children have an equal opportunity to participate and succeed – continues to inspire the partnership to make a difference in our community.
At the centre of this partnership is the development of a whole school Integrated Welfare Model that provides support to students, their families and staff. This model is based on the understanding that social and academic outcomes for children can only be maximised in a context of warmth, love, security and understanding. The Integrated Welfare Model supports students, families and staff through a structured process of consultation, assessment, intervention and evaluation and fosters strong partnerships between home, school and the wider community. Our Ardoch Project Coordinator, Judy Morrow, plays an important role in the delivery of this model and she is an integral member of the school’s welfare team. Judy works collaboratively with the school welfare team and community to identify unmet needs which are impacting on students' well-being and ability to learn and the strategies and programs delivered by the project are based on these needs.
Partnership activities have developed over a number of years based on emerging needs, evidence-based practice, consultation and evaluation of what has been effective for the school community. Decisions on initiatives and activities are made in consultation with the school leadership, Welfare team and the Ardoch Coordinator. Ardoch staff and volunteers, school staff and community and corporate volunteers are all involved in delivery of the student support programs.
At its broadest level, the partnership promotes the involvement of corporate and philanthropic partners. These partners provide support including financial support, volunteering and mentoring and buddy relationships with individual students. The partnership also plays an important role in advocacy and linking with community and social support systems.
Judy Morrow, our Ardoch Project Coordinator, works at the school on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays providing student and family support as well as running a range of programs and other services.
The role of the Project Coordinator is multi-faceted including:
being an integral member of the schools integrated welfare team supporting students, families and staff;
developing and implementing support programs for students and families experiencing disadvantage and hardship. This includes the provision of food, toiletries, clothing and household items; accessing school supplies; liaising with and referrals to community agencies, operating the Swap Shop (second hand school uniform and street clothing shop); accessing financial support for school and other family expenses such as money for school camp, swimming program, excursions, met tickets;
working collaboratively with personnel from other community agencies to support students and families;
advocating in the broader community on behalf of students, families and the school on issues affecting young peoples' access to an excellent education and other issues relating to families and social disadvantage;
broadening learning opportunities for students (e.g. Literary Buddies program for year 5/6 students, year 5/6 writing competition, social skills groups, year 6 transition program, year 7 ‘Drop-In’ program, lunchtime activities (choir, games, drama/dance); language intervention program;
linking relevant government agencies, community agencies, businesses and corporates with the school - generating financial and material resources and involving personnel in activities to support student learning and well-being;
coordinating the selection and placement of Ardoch trained volunteers at the school, skilling and supporting volunteers to work as tutors, role models and supportive friends in the classroom and with specialist teachers supporting students with their learning, encouraging and enhancing student engagement and positive social interaction;
working with the community, including philanthropic trusts, corporations, businesses, services, community organisations and individuals to harness resources and support that maximise educational opportunities for young people;
supervising tertiary students on placement at the school with Ardoch (social work and community welfare students);
providing support to staff and opportunities for relevant professional development;
promoting school community awareness on issues which prevent student engagement and school attendance and issues relating to social disadvantage and hardship and availability of community support services, and
producing documentation that enables the model to be transferred across primary schools in Victoria and nationwide.
The project coordinator provides support to parents and students and finds the most appropriate support personnel and agencies to meet the increasing complex needs of our students and their families. These include:
Family support and referral:
Judy provides support and advocacy for families facing disadvantage including provision of basic needs (food, clothing toiletries, household items), help with progressive payment plans for school expenses; camp/swimming program/ excursion subsidies, travel support, support with parenting/family issues including advocacy and referral to community agencies dealing with issues such as housing, mental and physical health, legal matters, refugee issues and employment. The whole school community contributes at this level through an annual basic needs drive, donations to the Swap Shop and financial donations.
Ardoch Volunteer Tutor/Mentor Program:
Ardoch volunteers provide valuable learning support, guidance and friendship. Trained Ardoch volunteers support students in classrooms and in specialist programs offering academic and/or social support working on a one-to-one basis or with small groups of students across a range of curriculum areas. St Kilda Primary School currently has over 14 Ardoch volunteers who have been recruited and trained at the Ardoch Education Centre. Judy manages and supports the Ardoch volunteers at the school site.
Language Intervention Program:
A speech therapist is employed with Ardoch partnership money to work on a specific Language Intervention Program for students with language processing and literacy difficulties. This program is supported by specifically trained Ardoch volunteers and integration aides.
Social Skills Groups:
Judy runs a number of small social skills groups throughout the year depending on identified needs. This has included ’Girls on the Go‘ for Grade 5/6 girls, ‘Stop, Think, Do’ for Grade 1/2 boys, and ‘Girls R Great’ for Grade 1/2 girls.
Lunchtime activities are run by Ardoch volunteers. Besides providing enjoyment for all students and preventing anti-social schoolyard behaviour, these lunchtime activities provide opportunities for students to become engaged in meaningful, structured activities with other peers. At St Kilda Primary School, we have had activities such as a choir, dance/drama club, a board games club and an art club. This year proposed activities include a senior school singing group, a cooking club, a book group and a gardening group.
Literary Buddies Program:
This program is run in association with the ccrporate firm NAB. This is a successful Ardoch pen pal program involving students in Grade 6. Letters are exchanged fortnightly and ‘buddies’ meet twice a year. This program enables students to develop their literary skills in an enjoyable and meaningful way, with corporate ‘buddies’ acting as a positive role model for them. All corporate pen-pal buddies undergo a training program conducted by Ardoch and child safety guidelines and procedures are strictly adhered to.
Annual Writing Competition:
NAB staff are also are involved a writing competition for students in Grade 5 and 6. The purpose of the competition is to encourage creative thinking, communication and literacy skills. An open-ended topic is given such as, ‘If I Could Change the World’. Students can choose to write from a range of genres including prose, poetry and song-writing. Entries are judged by NAB staff and awards presented at the end of year buddy get-together.
Year 7 Drop-In Program
This program is run after school once a week during Term 1. All ex Grade 6 students are contacted and invited to attend. The purpose of the ‘Drop-in’ is to ease the transition from Grade 6 to Year 7, to continue contact with their peers from Grade 6 and teachers and to informally deal with any issues for students during the first term in Year 7.
Events/ Activities involving Corporations:
Judy and other Ardoch support staff work with key corporations including NAB and GE, to develop events and activities which directly benefit the students at St Kilda Primary School. This involves staff from these corporations coming out to the school to run or participate in activities with the students such as Matzuri Day.
Second-hand uniform and clothing store is managed by Judy Morrow. Parents, teachers and children have access to the store. Clothing can be obtained in exchange for a gold coin donation. Money generated from the sale of goods is then channelled back into the school to support students and families in need.
Students who need additional food at school have access to the Healthy Snack cupboard.
Providing access to special events in the community:
For families who wouldn’t be able to attend such events due to financial restraints, opportunities to attend through provision of complimentary tickets to events such as such children’s tennis clinics at the Australian Open, circus performances and theatre productions.
Holiday Programs and Holiday Camps:
Financial and practical assistance is given to students in need to attend school holiday programs and holiday camps such as ‘Cottage by the Sea’ and Somers camp.
Judy can be contacted at the school on 03 9534 3993
or through Ardoch on 03 9537 2414.