Education Partner News

Welcome to Ardoch’s inaugural Education Partner Newsletter.

As our valued education partners in the early years, primary and secondary sectors we know we engage with you, and you with us, in various ways, and in particular through your key Ardoch staff contact(s) depending on the programs your centre or school participate in.   This year though, we wanted to enhance our strategic communications to you.  To achieve this, we are introducing a special Education Partner Newsletter targeted at you, our education partners.

We do not want to overwhelm you or replace the day-to-day planning conversations between you, your staff and Ardoch team members, so we will be publishing our Education Partner Newsletter just once a term.  It is our opportunity to share with you some of the more strategic activities of Ardoch that may be of interest.

Going forward, each term we will share information about Ardoch’s activities, program initiatives and outcomes and anything we think relevant to strengthening our partnerships with you, our education partners.  Please feel free to forward the newsletter to those educators and others on your staff for whom it might be relevant or of interest.

Though we would not have envisaged that we would be launching this initiative at a time of great change in all our lives due to COVID-19, as Ardoch’s vision for 2025 is to be Australia’s most impactful education partner it nonetheless presents an opportunity for us to engage with you further to better understand your needs and how we might support the needs of your students, especially those already experiencing educational disadvantage.

COVID-19: Update on Ardoch Programs

In her email of 17 March our CEO, Kylee Bates outlined the initial response of Ardoch to dealing with the implications of COVID-19 for our program delivery.  Like all organisations, and our education partners themselves, the safety and wellbeing of our staff, volunteers and key stakeholders is paramount. As such, we made the decision to suspend delivery of some of our programs, specifically our Education Volunteers program  and our Broadening Horizons programs while we await clarity on whether schools will close for an extended period and also explore alternative delivery strategies or program options.

We are excited to share that the Ardoch team showed great agility in quickly adapting our face-to-face training for the Education Volunteers, Early Language and Literacy and Curious Young Minds programs to online delivery and have already trained more than a dozen volunteers using this approach.  These volunteers will be at-the-ready to be placed in schools as soon as schools are operational and it is considered appropriate for volunteers to return face-to-face.

Our popular workplace volunteering programs Literacy Buddies® and Numeracy Buddies are planned to continue in a modified form.  The Ardoch team are currently working through the logistics of letter exchanges and the format of mid-year visits given the prospect that most Big Buddies will be working remotely and that schools may move to remote education delivery.  However, we and many of our partners agree that these programs will have even greater relevance as everyone in the community will experience greater physical isolation and the need for positive role models and aspirations becomes ever more important.

COVID-19: HOW CAN ARDOCH HELP?

We know that this is a difficult time for our education partners and their staff, with many challenges involved in adapting to potential remote delivery modes and the inability to access the curriculum-enhancing resources and supports that are available through organisations such as Ardoch.  It is a challenge we share in seeking to understand how experienced team and volunteers can best support you in these new circumstances, while maintaining our rigorous focus on child safety.

In the coming weeks, a member of the Ardoch team will be in touch with you to gather your feedback on (where relevant) the following:

  • What online learning environment do you have and is it active in use?
  • What are some of the short-term ways in which Ardoch can support your school or centre work towards improved learning outcomes for students, for example:
    • New ways to involve volunteers?
    • Ideas for adapting Ardoch programs that your school or centre has participated in if physical delivery or excursions are not possible?
    • New program ideas that would be relevant now, and possibly into the future?
    • Material supports?
  • Is there any other information about your curriculum delivery plans that we should be aware of?
  • Any other information that would be useful to Ardoch or suggestions that you would like to make about the support you need?

 

We cannot promise that we will be able to do all these things, but the information will be critical to helping us adapt and re-focus existing programs during this period, and for when school returns ‘to normal’.  Where relevant, we will also share some of this information with other organisations that we work with and who provide relevant services and supports to schools and/or early years centres and advocate to government.

CHILD SAFETY REVIEW UPDATE

Thank you to all educators who attended a focus group and/or completed the survey we sent you on Ardoch’s child safety practices.  Maintaining a rigorous approach to child safety is paramount for Ardoch.  Therefore we commissioned Child Wise to undertake this external review to assess the extent to which Ardoch’s practices not only adhere to, but demonstrate best practice, in the adoption of the national child safety principles and identify where there are areas for improvement.

Hearing your voices of our education partners through focus groups and surveys of educators was an important of this review, along with the views and experiences of volunteers and staff.  We are extremely grateful to all who contributed to this process.

The final report from Child Wise will be provided to the Ardoch board for consideration at the end of April and we hope to share key findings or recommendations arising from it with you shortly thereafter.

Mission, Vision and Strategic Plan

In mid-2019 Ardoch commenced a process to review our strategy.  We drew on a wide range of information about changes in the external environment, views obtained from our various stakeholder groups from our end-of-year and program surveys and staff and board consultation. Through this process we re-affirmed Ardoch’s purpose of addressing educational inequity, which we do by forming partnerships with schools and early years services in disadvantaged communities.

Our mission is that every child’s potential should be realised through full participation in education. This belief inspires us to increase engagement in education, build aspirations and enhance learning outcomes of children in disadvantaged communities.

We refined our vision and determined that by 2025 we want to become Australia’s most impactful education partner supporting children in disadvantaged communities.

Our updated strategic plan sets out our five strategic priorities over the next five years that we intend will help us achieve this.  These priorities and the initiatives within them will be reviewed and adapted as necessary to our changing circumstances.

Our impact in 2019

Without question 2020 is proceeding very differently to how most of us envisaged it would and we are all considering how we might adapt the what and how of our delivery to meet our new circumstances and what will likely be new needs.  However, we would be doing all those vital funding and delivery partners a great disservice if we did not share with you the significant impact that Ardoch had in 2019.

You will hopefully all have seen the overall results in your individual partner report sent late January, but we are pretty proud of the collaboration we did with our partners to increase the engagement, build the aspiration and enhance the learning outcomes of children in disadvantaged communities last year so we are excited to share them with you again.

In 2019:

  • 135 schools and early years services partnered with Ardoch
  • 18,715 children participated in at least one Ardoch program
  • 33,503 program opportunities were provided to children and young people through our education partners
  • 1773 volunteers were mobilised to participate in an Ardoch program and support children’s learning

 

The year 2020 has brought with it challenging time for our entire community, but Ardoch remains committed to working with you to find ways to support some of the most vulnerable children in our community so that they do not fall further and further behind in their education.