11/12/2020 - 09:00

Big impact from small-group tuition

11/12/2020 - 09:00

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A new $250 million tutoring package in Victoria could offer lessons for Western Australia, according to The Grattan Institute fellow Julie Sonnemann.

Big impact from small-group tuition
More than 4,000 tutors are expected to be employed as a result of Victoria’s $250 million package. Photo: Adam Winger

A new $250 million tutoring package in Victoria could offer lessons for Western Australia, according to The Grattan Institute fellow Julie Sonnemann.

Announced in mid-October, the package is intended to help students whose study may have been affected by the six-month remote learning period instituted during Victoria’s second wave of coronavirus infections.

It is expected more than 4,000 tutors will be employed through the program, who will collectively support about 200,000 students in the state.

Speaking to Business News about the benefits of the program, Professor Sonnemann said the tutoring package was the best available to Victoria in the short term, given the sudden and unexpected nature of the second wave of COVID-19.

“The evidence shows that tutoring and small-group tuition can have a big impact, and there’s very little that needs to be done up-front compared to other initiatives,” she said.

“This package has the potential to have a lot of impact.”

Those comments follow research from The Grattan Institute published in June, which showed extended periods of remote learning had a negative impact on students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

While the impact on students in WA was considered negligible, students in Victoria were thought to have suffered the worst impact, given they had at that stage spent more than two months learning remotely.

Professor Sonnemann explained that, while Victoria’s program would help solve the achievement gap for students affected by remote learning, state and territory governments could implement similar programs at a lower cost to help disadvantaged students achieve better outcomes overall.

“What’s important here is that there is a much more fundamental equity gap we should be thinking about,” she said.

 “What our research has shown is that tutoring, and small-group tuition, is actually quite easy to implement.

“These initiatives can tell us a lot about what might work to close the equity gap long term, and that’s relevant for the WA government.

“Given we’re [in a] recession … equity has to be front and centre for all state governments in Australia in terms of education.”

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