Whilst most of Australia gradually returns to a post-pandemic new kind of normal, the recent sequential disasters of drought, bushfires and coronavirus continue to have a devastating impact on school children in disadvantaged communities.
In the past two months, Schools Plus has delivered over $500,000 of funding to 58 schools across Australia to help them address the most urgent needs arising from the crises. However, a recent report by the Grattan Institute has called for $1bn of additional funding to help close the education gap already caused by disadvantage and now exacerbated by the recent pandemic. It says Australia’s most vulnerable students are likely to have lost a month of learning as a result of the lockdown.
Schools Plus has now launched a Recovery Drive to raise money to help schools and students recover from the long-term impact of the pandemic, bushfires and drought. Funding raised will be directed towards activities such as catch-up programs to address learning gaps, mental health initiatives for students and staff, and programs to re-engage students at risk of dropping out.
Schools call for additional support
In line with the findings from the Grattan Institute, schools are also requesting funding for additional tutoring to help children catch up. Michelle Young, principal of Bruthen Primary School, is one of those. The township was evacuated twice during the bushfires, homes and livestock were lost and teachers and families were on the frontline fighting the fires. Just a few weeks after the traumatised children started to return to school, the coronavirus hit, with some children unable to learn from a home that had just been destroyed by fire.
Michelle said: “As we start to return to school, we feel like our most traumatised students are starting all over again. Some of our children have found learning extremely difficult since November last year, through no fault of their own. We urgently need to fund additional tutoring to help these children catch up before they fall so far behind they give up altogether.”
Schools Plus’ CEO, Rosemary Conn commented, “Through our Crisis Appeal, we have supported 58 schools to make sure their students keep learning during the COVID-19 crisis. But it’s nowhere near enough.
“Our Recovery Drive now focuses on helping schools mitigate the long-term effect of these disasters on children’s learning. It is the most vulnerable children that will be most impacted, and we must do everything we can to help ensure they don’t fall further behind.”
Here is how you can help:
Donate to Schools Plus here. Your donation to our Recovery Drive will help schools in disadvantaged communities support their students’ learning needs and wellbeing as they recover from the recent crises.
Schools Plus is open to support in any way we can – please do get in touch if you would like to.
If you are an Australian school impacted by the crises, consider applying for a Schools Plus grant.