Joint initiative provides educational support for school students in western Sydney

12 August 2016
University of Sydney and Fairfield City Council collaboration to help local students succeed at school and access pathways to university.

A unique partnership between the University of Sydney and Fairfield City Council will provide significant educational support and activities for primary and high school students and the wider community.

The University of Sydney and Fairfield City Council Open Libraries celebrated a new agreement to support local students with their study and to access pathways to university at Cabramatta’s Whitlam Library on Wednesday 10 August.

Under the agreement, student volunteers provide regular tutoring and homework support at the recently launched Homework Club held at the Library.

The Homework Club is run by the University of Sydney’s Compass program, which seeks to address the under-representation of students from regional areas, low socio-economic backgrounds and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in higher education.

The agreement also provides Fairfield students and parents with the opportunity to attend educational workshops, including the successful information night held in June for parents of high school students considering university, scholarships and pathways and academic exam preparation workshops for the HSC.

Volunteers from the University’s student community are trained by Compass to work one-on-one or in small groups, to encourage schools students to develop research skills and make use of YourTutor – a free online tutoring resource that offers live, online help from teachers and tutors.

Photo of students at Whitlam Library using A*Star website

Students at Whitlam Library accessing Compass’ website A•STAR.TV.

YourTutor is accessed via Compass’ innovative digital platform A•STAR.TV, a website for and by young people. It shares articles, stories, interviews, photographs, videos and more – created for and by high school students, current University of Sydney students and alumni of the University – and offers resources for teachers, parents and students based on the NSW and National Curriculum.

Mary Teague, University of Sydney Head of Widening Participation and Outreach, said: “The University of Sydney is very pleased to be partnering with Fairfield City Council and Whitlam Library on this initiative, providing weekly academic support to students, HSC exam preparation and ensuring that all students and parents have accessible information about relevant University of Sydney opportunities such as the Sydney Early Offer Year 12 Scheme (E12)

It’s really exciting to see young people independently accessing a whole range of academic support and opportunities; they are highly motivated to attend university and we are aiming to support their academic needs through face-to- face tutoring and our online tutoring through A•STAR.TV.
Mary Teague, Head of Widening Participation and Outreach

Amanda Spalding, Director of Corporate Governance at Fairfield City Council, said: “We look forward to developing the partnership further to engage more University assisted library programs to engage our students with learning by developing and promoting new initiatives to support high school students in their pathways to higher education.”

University students from the faculties of Science, Education and Social Work, Nursing and Midwifery, Arts and Social Science, Education and Social Work, as well as those studying for a Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Science, are volunteering each week to support local primary and high school students with their studies.

Rohith Velivela, who lives locally and is studying a Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Science at the University of Sydney, said of the Homework Club: “We’re there to help them with whatever they need. In essence it’s free tutoring. So academically there’s a great benefit.”

Richie Lim, also based in western Sydney and in his first year in Bachelor of Science (advanced Mathematics) at the University, said: “I joined the Homework Club because I came from Fairvale High School, a low socio-economic school, and that was supported by Compass. Coming from my background, I thought joining Homework Club was a great opportunity to help other students to get into uni.”

The Homework Centre at Whitlam Library is held from 4pm to 6pm on Mondays and Wednesdays.