NFP Schools Program Impacting Education Outcomes
27 April 2016 at 9:20 am
An assessment of a national Not for Profit program providing highly-disadvantaged children targeted education assistance throughout their schooling has found a significant impact on their educational outcomes.
The research report by children’s education Not for Profit, The Smith Family highlighted the success of the organisation’s national scholarship program Learning for Life, and found that seven out of 10 students on the program were completing Year 12 better than the national average.
The Smith Family’s head of research and advocacy Anne Hampshire said the results compared favourably with six out of 10 young Australians from the lowest socioeconomic backgrounds nationally completing Year 12 or its equivalent.
The report, Improving the Educational Outcomes of Disadvantaged Young Australians: The Learning for Life Program, analysed the education program which assists about 34,000 students and their families a year in 94 communities.
“Despite significant investment in a range of initiatives over the years – by governments, non-government and philanthropic organisations – too many young Australians are still not achieving educationally,” Hampshire said.
“The potential consequences are a lifetime of disadvantage and its associated impacts, including welfare dependency and social isolation.
“However, the data we’ve gathered over the last four years is demonstrating our approach – intervening early and providing long-term educational support for very disadvantaged young people – is working.
“This is underpinning a new level of confidence and optimism for us, as the results confirm that Learning for Life is one solution to Australia’s longstanding educational problem.”
Learning for Life can start in the first year of school and run through to the completion of tertiary education. It provides a range of short programs including literacy and numeracy, learning clubs, mentoring and career activities, as well as digital and financial literacy initiatives for parents.
The report found that in 2015, more than four out of five (84 per cent) former Learning for Life students who left the program in Years 10, 11 or 12, were engaged in employment, education or training a year after leaving the program.
Hampshire said educational attainment was an important predictor of a person’s future employment, income, health and welfare prospects.
“Our research is showing that our highly targeted Learning for Life program is having a very encouraging beneficial impact. The program has been tested at scale and importantly, it’s also cost-effective at around just $1,000 per student per annum,” she said.
“It is delivering outcomes beneficial to the long-term economic and social wellbeing of young people and for national productivity and social cohesion.”
The report showed that students on the program were living in low income families. About 6,000 were of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander background. About 40 per cent of students and 50 per cent of parents/carers had a health or disability issue and over half lived in a single parent family.
“In the context of Australia’s ongoing debate about educational performance, it’s essential that we find scalable and cost-effective solutions that improve the educational attainment of disadvantaged children,” Hampshire said.
“Not addressing this issue ultimately compromises Australia’s national economic and social participation ambitions. Learning for Life is not the only answer to Australia’s educational challenge – but it is certainly making an important contribution.”