Winner of the 2023 OSHLSP of the Year – Regional/Rural Award

EAL Study Group for years 9 & 10, CatholicCare Victoria & Northern Bay College

We interviewed Nestor Estampa, the EAL Study Group coordinator, about winning the OSHLSP of the Year – Regional/Rural award.

Nestor Estampa with The Hon. Natalie Hutchins, Minister for Education & Women

Congratulations on winning the OSHLSP of the Year – Regional/Rural Award. What an incredible achievement! Can you tell us about your program?

Our EAL Study Group for years 9 & 10 runs weekly in Corio on site at Northern Bay P-12 College, and forms part of our wider Settle Well service. The study group addresses the educational needs of newly arrived refugee and asylum seeker students supporting their engagement and wellbeing, and it was proudly developed in response to student feedback obtained through consultation.

Students who attend the study group are often dealing with an array of challenges, which impact their education and wellbeing. Some of these challenges include limited English language skills, due to disrupted education; difficulty concentrating in class, due to trauma backgrounds associated with their refugee journeys; and isolation and disengagement, due to language barriers and cultural differences. The parents of these students are also unable to help with homework because of limited English language skills, and/or low levels of previous education.In our program, students are supported by CatholicCare Victoria volunteer tutors and the school’s Multicultural Education Aides to provide interpreting support in different languages.

Can you share some highlights from your program in 2023?

A highlight of our study group has been the enthusiastic endorsement of the Northern Bay College School Principal, which has led to integrated curriculum support for tutors and better learning outcomes for the students. By giving tutors access to the students’ curriculum, they have been well prepared to support the students with what they’re learning in class. We also gave our tutors digital literacy training, so that they had the confidence and skills to access the students’ learning materials online. Providing increased support to our tutors has led to improved support and guidance for the students participating in our program. Establishing a good monitoring and evaluation process helps track progress and identify any challenges for improving program quality.

What do you think makes your club successful?

We believe the ongoing improvement, innovation, and strong connection with Northern Bay College has enabled our study group to be successful in supporting students from refugee backgrounds.

Collaboration is one of our five values at CatholicCare Victoria, because we know that through collaboration we can achieve so much more than we could alone. Our OSHLSP has been developed with the students and the school, to ensure the program meets the needs and learning opportunities for every student who participates. We have open and regular communication with the school leaders, too, which makes it easier for us to build our partnership. Our long-term and beneficial partnership sustains the program.

Students who participate in the study group also have access to a range of other supports in our Geelong Settle Well program, so the support is tailored to them to help them overcome the challenges they face, and work towards their dreams and goals for their future.

What does winning the OSHLSP of the Year Award mean to you and your OSHLSP?

Winning the OSHLSP of the Year Award means so much to our community, because we truly believe in the support we’re providing for refugee students to help them thrive.

Our Settle Well program is completely philanthropically funded, and it’s a program we’ve developed from the ground up. To have this acknowledged, and to share the positive impact of our program for students from refugee backgrounds, means the world to us.

Photo credit: Harjono Djoyobisono

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