Winners of the 2022 Out-of-School-Hours Learning Support Program of the Year

Debney Meadows Learning Support Program – Edmund Rice Community & Refugee Services

We interviewed the team at Debney Meadows Learning Support Program about their incredible homework club, which won the 2022 award for Out-of-School-Hours Learning Support Program of the Year in the Metropolitan category.

Tell us about your program.

The Debney Meadows Learning Support Program is a school-based program supporting 60 students and their families attending Debney Meadows Primary School. The program offers an accessible, place-based, holistic wrap-around education support program for African-Australian and other families living in public housing in Flemington. The program has grown from its inception in July 2020 to encompass a suite of interconnected initiatives, including Homework Club, Reading Club, outdoor play-based-learning, adult English learning and wellbeing groups, to name a few. It is supported by volunteer mentors and parents who provide learning, soft-skills, and wellbeing support to students. The program has been able to establish partnerships with local organisations such as The Venny and Kensington Neighbourhood House, to facilitate further learning and recreational opportunities for students and families.

What are some key highlights or successes of your program?

The program has seen great success in improving communication between the school and families, which has helped to foster a stronger school community as families are more connected to school programming. Within our Reading Club for younger students, parents and carers now join in on the program, enabling participation in their children’s learning and progress. Through time spent with parents and volunteer mentors in Homework and Reading Club, the program has witnessed students becoming more confident in their learning and experiencing ownership of successes. Through recent reporting and evaluation, students have articulated the love they have for the Homework Club programs, and the positive impact it has had on their school environment, learning, and friendships.

What do you think makes your club successful?

The success of our program comes down to the openness of the community we support to grow together and learn new things. Parents and students welcome new experiences quickly and have a strong desire to share their voice. Likewise, the success of the Homework Club is derived from the openness of volunteer mentors and staff to support students by meeting them where they’re at and try new ways of learning. Also, the collaborative ethos of the program means that the program is well supported and is drawing from nearby resources and opportunities that already exist for the community.

What does winning the OSHLSP of the Year award mean to your OSHLSP?

This award is incredible to receive! It is an affirming recognition of the work our OSHLSP has been doing within the school community, and of the potential of the students and families within it. It has prompted us to critically reflect upon what we are initiating and facilitating, which is an important process that is key to growth and guiding the next steps of a program as young as ours. The award spurs us on to keep conducting our work and encourages us to keep pursing a holistic community centered approach, which can perhaps act as a model for other up and coming OSHLSPs.

To find out how Learning Beyond the Bell can support your OSHLSP, click here.