The IEU welcomes the tutoring program for disadvantaged students, and we support the involvement of teachers at every stage.
Members may have seen in the media in late November last year a decision by the NSW Government to provide $337 million in special funding for both government and non-government schools to offer tutors for children disadvantaged because of the disruption to their schooling caused by COVID-19. Funding guidelines are expected to be finalised in coming days.
The funding will cover a 12-month period and can be used at any time from Term 1 to Term 4 2021. Learning support will be provided to small groups of between two and five students. Both primary and secondary schools are included in the scheme.
Of the total NSW funding of $300 million, Catholic schools will receive about $20 million and some independent schools may also be eligible. Schools will be eligible if they have more than 15 percent of students in the lowest socio-economic quartile.
The union understands that 252 Catholic systemic schools will receive funding – about 45 percent of all systemic schools in NSW. Each school will then determine which students receive the assistance, focusing on the lowest socio-economic quartile.
Who will be tutors?
The NSW Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning, Sarah Mitchell, has stated that it is intended that casual and retired teachers, final-year teaching students and university tutors could be employed as tutors.
The union wrote to the key NSW non-government school employer organisations in November last year asking about implementation of the scheme in their schools, including pay rates that would apply to the work. At this stage, only the Catholic Commission for Employment Relations has replied.
The union believes priority for tutoring work should go to casual teachers who are already known to the school and its students or part-time teachers who are seeking more hours. Existing enterprise agreements will apply.
The union believes classroom teachers should be integral to implementing the program by identifying the students most in need of assistance and in having a say about the focus of the tuition.
There should be close collaboration between the classroom teacher and the tutor and release time should be provided to the class teacher to allow for this.
Details about the form of delivery still need to be finalised, for example: At what times will tutoring be conducted? How will it work in secondary schools?
We will keep members informed as more details are worked out.