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Strength to strength

Josh Raymer

11 Nov 2022

How The Huddle’s free tutoring program in Werribee is flourishing in 2022

Study Squad Wyndham has seen strong growth as we return to an uninterrupted year of tutoring and study support. Attendance has grown steadily each term due to strong relationships with community groups such as the Oromo Women’s Networking Group, and an initiative with St Andrews Primary School in which The Huddle allowed Year 6’s to attend from Term 3. This led to a strong uptake in the program, which has generally only been available to Year 7’s and up.

Post COVID, a challenge for Study Squad was building attendance after interruptions for most of 2020 & 2021. The transition from the online component of Study Squad and schooling to face-to-face delivery in 2022 proved to be a challenge for program organisers and volunteers alike.  In 2022, we set out to reinvigorate relationships with schools in Wyndham, meet with community groups to provide more information on the program, and leverage The Huddle’s expertise in assisting families and young people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds.

The Huddle met with Rahima Ahmed from Oromo Women’s Networking Group to establish ways we could work together to support young people from the group with their study. Through this relationship, young people from Oromo backgrounds began to attend the program in a face-to-face capacity. The Huddle also worked with families from Somali backgrounds, including mothers involved in Iskufilan and Women’s Workout. Families and young people from these communities were encouraged to attend the program and Huddle staff assisted with the registration process. Further steps were also taken to make the space more inclusive for young people of Muslim faith, such as the addition of a prayer space for students and parents.

The Huddle’s long standing and strong relationship with St. Andrews PS saw Year 6’s able to attend the program throughout Term 3 & Term 4. The Huddle has long delivered True North & Voice Your Voice programs at St. Andrews PS, and at the conclusion of these activities, The Huddle opened the program to students so that they can prepare for secondary schooling and to assist with the transition from Year 6 to Year 7, establishing excellent study habits in advance. With a large amount of support from St. Andrews PS teaching staff, the initiative has proven to be extremely successful. St. Andrews students have also started attending other Huddle programs such as Huddle Holidays, further highlighting the strong relationship between The Huddle and St. Andrews PS community.

The Huddle’s relationships with schools in Wyndham allowed promotion of the Study Squad program through other programs, such as Huddle Holidays, Huddle Up!, True North, Voice Your Voice, Game Changers and more.

With an increase in visibility of the program in the Wyndham community, there was also an increased demand for Study Support as young people returned to face-to-face learning. The past few years have been extremely difficult for many students, as they tried to navigate COVID interruptions and a lack of connection with others during this time. Parents and young people attend Study Squad to connect with Huddle staff, volunteer tutors and fellow students, all while receiving study support.

Throughout 2022, we have seen several success stories and study achievements, including the story of Dasy Osman, who is a Study Squad participant currently undertaking Year 11 VCE study. Dasy first started attending Study Squad online during the peak of the COVID lockdowns in 2021, and consistently attended the program while we were unable to run face to face. Young people were often fatigued with online learning, but Dasy made the effort to attend the program on a regular basis regardless. Dasy displayed great resilience during this time, engaged with our tutors and continued to study well.

Dasy was finally able to attend Study Squad face-to-face at the start of Term 1, 2022. Throughout 2022, Dasy hardly missed a session and even attended Study Squad when she had ‘pupil-free’ days. Importantly, Dasy lives in Tarneit and travels around 20-30 minutes to attend the program. Dasy has two younger sisters that also attend Study Squad, and she sets a great example for them in the way that she engages with her education.  Dasy has been a role model for not only her sisters, but also other students at Study Squad, particularly the young women in attendance. Dasy demonstrates great discipline and leadership amongst the cohort, and this resulted in her being nominated for the ‘Most Outstanding Secondary Student’ award at the MY Education Awards Ceremony. Dasy was crowned ‘Most Outstanding Secondary Student – Runner Up’ due to her fantastic work at Study Squad.

We’ve also seen former participants become casual program support officers, now delivering the program that they once attended as a participant. Betty Tegegne & Ekram Hassan-Ali have been supporting the delivery of the program throughout Term 4.

It’s been incredible to watch the program grow throughout the year, with young people attending from so many different schools and backgrounds. I’ve been so impressed by students’ commitment to learning and study.- Josh Raymer, Education Coordinator at The Huddle

As Study Squad – Wyndham continues to go from strength to strength, there is an increased demand for tutors. Without volunteer tutors, the program simply could not run. As we look ahead to 2023, we plan to have more volunteer tutors to support students as the program grows.

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