Staff spotlight: ACU team helps boost literacy

Published: Monday 10th August 2015


Teaching student Clare Canty is part of an ACU team that has helped increase both literacy and numeracy standards at a local Melbourne primary school.

ACU’s award-winning Atherton Gardens Homework Support Program promotes community capacity in the building by engaging children from refugee and other disadvantaged backgrounds, together with their families, in education.

To add value to this program, Clare has co-founded a weekly Fun Run Club which she coordinates at the housing estate in conjunction with the local primary school and also led the management of a Holiday Program in June at ACU, which accommodated children from refugee backgrounds and 30 ACU volunteers.

 “The children I work with experience multiple levels of disadvantage, but they just have so much to give,” Clare said.  “Mutual gain is so evident when working within this community and I have gained so much from my time with them, both personally and professionally, more than they will ever know.”

Clare is in her fourth year studying a Bachelor or Education (Primary) and also works as an assistant for the Institute for Advancing Community Engagement (IACE), which conducts the Melbourne program.

Clare’s supervisor, IACE Relations Coordinator Mary Campbell said there have been many mutual benefits and positive outcomes for more than 80 children and their families due to Clare's generosity of spirit in her work at the program.

“The school reports an increase in both literacy and numeracy standards. Through her caring and welcoming approach, children want to participate in her initiatives and the parents trust her,” Mary said. 

“The volunteer tutors (pre service teachers from ACU) know that Clare will offer clear communication, quickly respond to any enquiry and they feel very supported through her briefing and debriefing processes.

“Clare researches to actively pursue meaningful learning activities that will engage each individual child and attends to their specific learning style. The needs and wellbeing of the children are at the centre of all she does.”

Clare demonstrates a creative approach to strengthening the program by initiating book fairs and seeking donations of relevant teaching and learning materials for the children.

She has also initiated awards at the end of each session in recognition of both the children and their tutors.

“Community engagement helps students realise the power in partnership: Working together, sharing skills, knowledge and resources to achieve a common goal,” Clare said.

“It offers students an opportunity to learn more about themselves and the community. The fulfilling community experience can be drawn upon and used effectively in any work place during future endeavours.”