Catch Up: Students gain the confidence to achieve both academically and socially
The Ronald McDonald Learning Program (RMLP) in Tasmania, supports seriously ill children from Prep to Year 12. Fully funded by the Ronald McDonald House Charities, the Learning Program is Australia wide and has been running in Tasmania for seven years.
RMLP’s Lisette Noonan manages this catch-up program, which supports students once they are well enough to return to school having received treatment for perhaps chronic illness, a traumatic accident or a life threatening disease. Support from the Learning Program includes 40 hours of one on one tutoring following an initial assessment by an educational psychologist. Access to speech and occupational therapy is also provided if required. Tutoring is for one hour a week and generally occurs at the child’s school, although for some students this might take place at their local library. Most children in need of help are referred to the Learning Program by their hospital, social workers and schools.
Tutors employed by RMLP offer their students access to Mathletics, Spellodrome and ABC Reading Eggs as part of the Individual Learning Programs set up to address numeracy and literacy gaps and to also engage students through ICT.
“We were recently able to incorporate iPads into the Program through the generosity of a grant provider and we are very grateful to Brendan Colley from 3P Learning for his support in hosting PD Workshops to support our tutors”, explains Mrs Noonan.
Lisette finds that the schools she works with are highly supportive of the Program recommending tutors from their part-time, relief, retired or maternity leave teachers believing this strengthens the community support around the returning child. Lisette works in partnership with the school to ensure that the tutors are well matched to the student and their family and she is able to source a tutor from the RMLP’s National database of tutors if required. Each term, tutors submit a Learning Plan and Report for their students which Lisette coordinates and tracks.
Lisette was originally a tutor on the program herself and she jumped at the opportunity when a position arose within the RMLP team.
“The positive for me is that this program means I can continue my relationships with schools as well as parents and students”.
Because each state has a cap on the number of students it can fund within the Ronald McDonald Learning Program, Lisette is relieved she currently meets the demand for the program with only a small waitlist. A recent grant however, has meant the Tasmanian RMLP was able to open up an extra 10 places for children in need.
Both parents and students deeply appreciate the Learning Program, with a parent recently telling Lisette
“The Learning Program has helped my son catch up and feel much better about himself at school. This could not have been possible without the help from the tutoring and the support of the Ronald McDonald Learning Program.”
Lisette sees the success of RMLP’s Catch Up Program clearly in terms of outcomes: students gain the confidence to achieve both academically and socially.