Supporting positive connections with school education

Organisation: Save the Children Australia

Project: Transition to School program for vulnerable children in Townsville

Amount: $20,000

Year of grant: 2013

The aim of the Transition to School early intervention program is to get the whole family school-ready by familiarising them with the idea of regular school attendance and to ensure that children are ready to start school and achieve educational milestones in the following year. The program addresses the issues that often cause vulnerable children and parents to become disengaged from or drop out of schooling.

The key components of the program are:

  • Providing quality early learning and development activities;
  • Building the capacity and understanding of parents to create a stimulating and safe home environment that supports learning and regular school attendance; and
  • Connecting parents with the school community and wider support networks.

In the program, children and families are introduced to their local school setting including the school routine, facilities, preparing a lunch box and the classroom environment. The sessions are designed to expose both children and parents to classroom routines and the process of attending school each day.

In 2013, the John Villiers Trust supported this vital program to be delivered in four schools with students from some of the most disadvantaged suburbs of Townsville including Vincent, Garbutt, Gulliver, Deeragun and Townsville West. The program targeted children from Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander, humanitarian migrant and geographically isolated families who were not accessing kindergarten or preparatory classes and were due to start school in the following year.

Over eight weeks, Save The Children:

  • Delivered 64 sessions at four schools of culturally and age appropriate play and early learning activities for disadvantaged and vulnerable children to prepare them for the journey to school and life beyond.
  • Screened 48 children for developmental/behavioural issues that may impact on their ability to learn, and where necessary, supported parents to access allied services to address these issues before the child starts formal school.
  • Supported 76 parents/caregivers to prepare them for the transition of their child to mainstream/formal school, to engage with the school environment, and to understand the importance of their child regularly attending school.

“Transition to School is an excellent program to assist children in preparing for Prep.  Those children who participated visited the Prep classroom several times and were familiar with it prior to Day 1 of the school year. A number of discussions had been held between our Prep teacher and the teacher running the program. This ensured that particular areas were addressed to make starting Prep easier: opening lunch boxes and managing their food; sitting to listen; recognition of their name and the letter it began with.  The children were participating with other students who were to commence Prep with them. So on Day 1 they recognised one another. This brought smiles to some anxious faces.  The program gave the opportunity for parents to meet one another and begin to develop relationships across the school community.  From my observation the children really enjoyed Transition to School Program in 2013.”

Principal of Vincent State School – Mrs Christie Schmid