Education Partner News – Term 2

Welcome to Ardoch’s Education Partner Newsletter.

There are two things I want to say to you and your teams.  ‘Congratulations’ and ‘Thank you’.

Congratulations for the remarkable work you all did through the challenging period of school closures and remote learning to ensure that all of your students continued to have access to learning opportunities, even as both your own and your students’ lives were being disrupted by our community’s shared health crisis.  Despite the many challenges of your operating environments, it was clear to us and fortunately, many others in the community, that our country’s educators are committed professionals concerned for the learning and lifetime outcomes of the children they teach.

Thank you, for allowing us to continue to contact you and being available to answer questions that would inform and support the Ardoch team’s work during a period when we could not support you with many of the volunteers or other program activities that we would normally offer due to the restrictions that were in place in each state and territory. Your continued engagement is a testament to the strength of our partnerships and something we place high value on.

COVID-19: Update on Ardoch Programs

COVID-19 has required us all to adapt as individuals and organisations in a great many ways.  It has also reinforced the need for us each to act from a basis of fact and not assumption, so it was with this particular mindset that the Ardoch team sought direct feedback from our primary and secondary partners in particular to understand what the impact of COVID-19 would mean for the delivery of Ardoch programs in each of our partner schools.

We appreciate your time in having provided these insights to us and thought it only fair to share some of the overall insights we gleaned.  It was clear from your responses that early on a key and priority challenge for many of our partners was ensuring that students, especially the most vulnerable, had access to necessary technology, but beyond this there was interest in how Ardoch could continue to support our education partners through the provision of virtual or remote engagement opportunities, and a preference for still being able to access incursions and excursions later in the year (social distancing rules permitting).

Since then we have:

  • Commenced our Literacy Buddies® programs with an initial exchange of letters between class teachers and workplace coordinators from each workplace
  • Commenced the recruitment of workplace volunteers for our Numeracy Buddies programs
  • Engaged some of our education volunteers as Big Buddies in our Literacy Buddies® program
  • Asked other our classroom education volunteers to write letters to their usual class of students sharing their experience of lock down and how much they are looking forward to returning to the classroom
  • Piloted a virtual Speed Careers program for primary schools
  • Piloted some virtual learning and training resources for our Early Language and Literacy (ELL) and Curious Young Minds (CYM) programs to support our education partners in the early years
  • Continued to plan for the eventual return of volunteers to classrooms and explore how other of our existing programs might be delivered in alternative formats later this year, and ongoing where this is found to be effective and impactful.

 

Like you, we await Government advice on the timing for when volunteers will be able to return to schools and incursions/excursions will be able to take place so that we can recommence delivery of some programs that are temporarily on hold.

Child Safety Review Update

Thank you to those of you who supported our external Child Safety Review conducted on Ardoch’s behalf, and at our instigation, by Child Wise, by participating in a focus group and/or completing a survey to provide feedback on Ardoch’s approach to child safety.  Your feedback, together with that provided by Ardoch volunteers, staff and board members, has informed the report provided by Child Wise and the improvement plan that they have recommended to us which will enable us to further demonstrate our commitment to a child safe environment

To learn more about the review, Child Wise’s feedback, key recommendations and next steps, please read on

double impact day

Ardoch’s third annual Double Impact Day appeal was held on 16 June. During the campaign the majority of donations were able to be doubled by matched pledges from our generous major donors. This means that a gift of $100 became $200 or a gift of $200 became $400, and so on!

Our goal this year was to raise $100K to go towards programs that support students at our partner schools and early years services.  Thanks to the amazing generosity of major donors and individual supporters we raised more than $150K!

On behalf of the Ardoch team I’d also like to acknowledge the generosity of a number of you – principals, kindergarten directors and teachers – for the time you took in providing written and video testimonials about Ardoch’s work that appears in this year’s campaign materials.  It enabled us to tell your story, and how our work helps your students, more effectively.  Thank you.

school capacity framework project

Program delivery is the most visible part of Ardoch’s partnerships with our school and early years partners, yet a key component of our approach to partnership with our education partners has always been to help build the capacity of our partners to engage with, and access, the sort of opportunities, organisations and people that you might not otherwise have access to.  However exactly what that ‘capacity’ looks like and the extent to which we help build it is not something that has been well-defined.  As a result we included scoping this, and developing a tool to help us measure it as a strategic initiative in our 2025 Strategy under our Strategic Priority #3: To build sustained, values-aligned partnerships that leverage strengths and resources to increase reach, impact and influence.

We are delighted then, that ORIMA Research have offered to work Ardoch on a pro bono basis, under the sponsorship of Szymon Duniec, Managing Director to help us develop this tool.  Following an initial workshop with the ORIMA team we will be reaching out to a small number of our education partners in the hope of obtaining input and support to help us pilot this in the coming months.

In the meantime, if you would like to know more about this project or volunteer for your school to provide input to the development process, we would be delighted to hear from you.  Please contact kylee.bates@ardoch.org.au

Program in focus: Books for homes partnership with Dymock’s Children’s Charities

Partnerships and collaboration has been something of a mantra for many organisations as we’ve all sought to adapt to an environment in which remote learning brought into sharp focus the heightened vulnerability of students experiencing the most disadvantaged in terms of access to technology.  So, it was with great excitement that Ardoch seized an invitation to partner with Dymock’s Children’s Charity to distribute books to children in some of our partner schools to support their continued literacy learning.

Dymock’s Children’s Charities, based in NSW, share similar goals to Ardoch as their mission is to “promote a love of reading and improve literacy outcomes for all Australian children.” They do this by providing brand new books to children in priority locations throughout Australia.  This new, and COVID-19-inspired, partnership will see 1125 books provided to grade two students in 25 schools in Geelong, Frankston, Hastings and Dandenong to take home.  We hope to build on this work and explore further potential for partnering with Dymock’s Children’s Charities in some of their other programs.

 

schools plus grant applications

Schools seeking funding for projects that improve learning outcomes can now apply to Schools Plus 2020 open round.

Funding from $20,000 to $250,000 is available for individual and cluster schools. Submit a simple Expression of Interest (EOI) before 7 Sept to be matched with a donor.

Schools Plus is a national organisation that provides funding to schools in disadvantaged communities. Since 2015, Schools Plus has funded over 700 projects, benefiting more than 230,000 students and 12,500 teachers.

Schools eligible for support through Schools Plus have a value below 1000 on the Index of Community Socio-Educational Advantage (ICSEA).

Visit www.schoolsplus.org.au/for-schools/grants/

Testimonials

We think it’s always nice to hear about the positive role that we, as Ardoch or as individuals, play in people’s lives, but we also think it’s nice for you to hear about the important role that volunteering in one of your schools or early years centres plays in the lives of our volunteers:

“Look forward to hearing from you soon about when we can finally get back to volunteering”

“Looking forward to getting back with my preppies at (School in South East) Primary  when the time is right”

We would love to hear your feedback on the newsletter so feel free to send this to ceo@ardoch.org.au