The New South Wales (NSW) Treasury is planning to put significant investment into tutoring services for students who have fallen behind during the COVID-19 lockdowns.
“We know parents are pretty sick of home-schooling their kids, but what’s most important is that we don’t have our young people fall behind during this pandemic,” NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet told The Australian.
“A child’s education in their formative years has a substantial impact on their future. Initiatives that drive better education outcomes are going to be looked at favourably—we don’t want today’s problems turning into a challenge for tomorrow,” Perrottet said.
The tutoring program will be similar to the previous $337 million intensive learning support program that began in Term 1 of this year. It supported small tuition groups to learn from retired or casual teachers, university students, and tutors across all schooling levels.
Perrottet said plans for the new tutoring initiative would expand on the previous program with more investment involved.
Currently, he is reviewing a number of submissions by industry stakeholders, community organisations, government departments, and others. Submissions will first be assessed then a proposal will be submitted to the government’s expenditure review committee.
Perrottet also said the treasury would be discussing additional mental health and infrastructure spending as part of the support measures, such as incentives for outdoor activities in heavily impacted regions.
Full details are likely to be announced in mid-October when it is expected that 70 percent of people aged 16 and over will be fully vaccinated.
Students in the Greater Sydney region have been under extended lockdown since late June, covering the entirety of Term 3.
According to the most recent National Assessment Program—Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) preliminary data, the state’s Year 9 students recorded the worst reading score since the system began, with one in ten students failing to reach the national minimum standard.
While NSW is usually the top state when it comes to NAPLAN scores, the latest results put the state third behind Victoria and Western Australia.
The comments by the treasurer come after the NSW Department of Education announced in August that students will undergo a staggered return to school in Term 4, starting from Kindergarten and Year 1 students on Oct. 25.
However, the department noted that if case numbers significantly increase in one area local government area (LGA), home learning would resume for that LGA until numbers drop.