Jonah is 11 and in Grade 6 at one of our partner schools in Dandenong. His dad is hardly around and when he is, there is violence in the home. His mum struggles to cope, both mentally and emotionally. Neither of them work and have never had jobs. Finances are really bad – they have been for as long as Jonah can remember.
His life at home is incredibly unstable. Jonah doesn’t like school. Jonah rarely goes to school and when he does, he hasn’t eaten and does not have lunch.
The low point came when Jonah had to hide on the roof of his house to escape the arguing and the violence. The police came to take him to school, where he would be supervised – for at least a few hours.
The risks of Jonah completely disengaging and leaving home and school are incredibly high.
Then Jonah meets David, an Ardoch Community Education Volunteer. Jonah and David start working together in the classroom – one on one – on literacy and other areas of the curriculum. David is at school the same day and same time each week. Jonah starts coming to school every day that David is in so they can work together. David is an active listener and also starts helping Jonah develop skills and strategies to face the challenges at home. David gives Jonah positive feedback and encouragement and helps him develop social skills. Jonah starts making friends at school and asking questions in class.
Jonah and David work together for 6 months. David is the positive role model that Jonah needs in his life and he also learns respect and trust. Jonah is more confident, he is performing better academically, he is engaged in class and having fun with his new friends. Jonah is now 14. He is in year 8 and enjoying high school. He is content, happy and positive about his future. He is aspiring to complete his education.
This is just one of thousands of stories that demonstrate the positive impact that Ardoch’s Community Education Volunteers are having on the lives of vulnerable children every day.
Ardoch has been placing volunteers into disadvantaged schools for 30 years. One in three children in the communities that Ardoch works, starts school developmentally vulnerable and continues to fall behind as they progress through school. Without the support of programs like our Community Education Volunteers, these children can easily fall through the cracks.
Ardoch recruits, trains and places our Community Education Volunteers into school partners within our place-based regions. Our volunteers provide in-classroom support, under the direction of the teacher, for two hours per week, every week for a minimum of six months. The average volunteer stays with us for 2 years and some have been supporting our journey for over 10.
Through the involvement of volunteers, students receive 1-on-1 or small group support with targeted reading, writing and language exercises and other areas of the curriculum and are able to build relationships with a trained and positive adult role model.
In September 2017 we released an external evaluation of this Program. Teachers in our partner schools reported that after just 6 months of working with an Ardoch Volunteer:
· 79% of students expressed greater confidence in their ability to learn.
· 67% of students showed greater improvement in academic competence than anticipated;
· 62% of students made and sustained friendships;
· 57% of students demonstrated improved behaviour while interacting with the volunteer.
This evidence further highlights the significant impact of this program and its importance to improving vulnerable children’s educational outcomes.
Please help Ardoch connect more valuable volunteers with disadvantaged schools and children so we can work together to ensure that every child’s potential is realized through full participation in education.
To read more please visit: www.ardoch.org.au
Names have been changed to protect privacy and images used reflect Ardoch’s Education Volunteers program in general and not specifically this story.