Innovative after-school program wins national Impact Award

E-LINCs program run at the Noble Park Primary School

Monash University Primary Education Students Jie Ren (left) and Sandra Connerty (right) working with Noble Park Primary pupils on their Learning Goals

A ground-breaking after-school initiative by Monash University and local primary schools has won a NAB Schools First Impact Award.

The Enhanced Learning Improvement through Networked Communities (E-LINC) program run at the Noble Park Primary School was one of 60 national winners of the NAB Schools First awards program.

Monash University researcher Dr David Zyngier said the E-LINC program, developed in consultation with the principals of Noble Park and Elwood Primary Schools, delivers an exciting new and very different after-school program aimed at re-engaging under-performing students in their learning.

“Winning an Impact Award truly demonstrates that the partnership we have with Noble Park Primary is improving the learning outcomes of the students," Dr Zyngier said.

“We have been working with the principals of Noble Park and Elwood Primary Schools since 2009 to develop this after-school program.

“The prize money will be used to further develop the research and spread the program at  more schools and communities.”

E-LINC involves student–teachers from Monash University’s Faculty of Education and community volunteers from the National Australia Bank (NAB) working with the schools in an after-school program.

The student–teachers and volunteers run socio-culturally diverse activities two nights-a-week for an eight-week period at each of the schools. The primary students are encouraged to set their own learning task with the help of the volunteers. They spend the first part of each session working towards these goals in activities as varied as story-telling, spelling, numeracy games, handwriting, times tables and computer skills.

The second part of the session involves more structured enhanced learning activities, such as cooking, music making, webpage development, digital photography and everyday science.

“Schools can’t do it alone. To share the responsibility of social justice and social inclusion we have developed this program to connect schools with the broader communities,” Dr Zyngier said.

Through student surveys and assessment data, the schools documented the success of the partnership in re-engaging the primary students and improving their learning.

“My research shows that student results and experiences can be enhanced when they are connected to and involved with their community and that E-LINC has been a huge success for all involved,” Dr Zyngier said.

“Today the E-LINC program has become part of the culture and planning activities of each partner, and student-teachers are now receiving credits for their work towards their placement requirement.”

One of the Monash student volunteers, Sandra Connert said she had learned so much from her involvement.

"I learned as much from the children as they did from me,” Ms Connert said

“The program has been a great opportunity to contribute back to the community, to support children from refugee and migrant communities while practising and honing my teacher skills."

The partnership between Monash University's Education Faculty and the primary schools was developed to address an identified need that would benefit the students and is now ready to be implemented in a number of other schools.

"You've heard it before: it takes a village to raise a child. E-LINC builds on the increasing recognition that the task of raising young people who are resilient, enquiring, adaptable and well-adjusted, rests on the shoulders of the entire community,” Dr Zyngier said.

“The outcomes for the schools have included greater student engagement; improved attendance and retention; and better academic performance."

NAB Schools First is a partnership between NAB, the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) and Australian Council for Educational Research aimed at bringing together students, teachers, parents and community members to help young people grow.

Find out more about the E-LINC program.