More funding needed for active learning experiences – Commissioner

More funding needed for active learning experiences – Commissioner

Research by The Australian Council of Social Service and the University of NSW shows one in six Australian children grow up experiencing poverty, often forcing them to miss out on crucial school supplies and active learning experiences, such as school excursions.

To mark National Anti-Poverty Week (15-27 October), South Australia’s Commissioner for Children and Young People, Helen Connolly, is calling on the South Australian government to provide financial support for families doing it tough. This includes funding to help children attend active learning experiences, such as school camps, field trips, or music or sports tours.

Connolly argues that because of the benefits these interactive learning experiences offer students, communities should ensure that all students can participate in them.

One of the ways to fix this inequity quickly, she says, is to cover the costs for those who are already qualified to have a School Card. In addition, Connolly says government should develop a state-wide grant program to enable all students to participate in school active and immersive experiences, particularly those from low-SES and regional and remote schools who are currently missing out.

One key initiative, she says, would be a new state-wide Educational Excursions and Camps Grant Program to enable students from disadvantaged regional and remote government schools to attend educational excursions to Adelaide and elsewhere.

“It would also enable these students to attend outdoor school camps, enjoy cultural visits and attend vocational career and work experience opportunities designed to help children and young people make more informed decisions about their future,” she said.

“Active and immersive experiences provide students with a rich variety of activities outside the school setting. This places them in different environments that promote their participation and engagement with sporting, cultural, educational, and outdoor activities.”

In addition, says Connolly, they can promote better school attendance and foster an environment of striving for better educational performance overall.

The Commissioner calls on the government to “walk the talk” and provide opportunities that enable all students to experience the aspirational benefits of immersive education by closing the equity gap through eliminating the financial barriers faced by families and support all students to flourish.

“It is not good enough to acknowledge the value of interactive education opportunities for children’s learning wellbeing, and at the same time deny the opportunity to thousands of students simply because their families are struggling with cost-of-living pressures. It is not fair,” she said.

“All children and young people, including those in lower SES, rural and remote schools, have a right to be experiencing the same opportunities as their more advantaged peers.”