A Compass Family Reunion

1 March 2013

Left to right: Annette Cairnduff and Sally Owen

What do the south west of Sydney and the northern suburbs of Adelaide have in common? For the last year, it's been the Compass program! The success of the University of Sydney's schools engagement program inspired the University of Adelaide to launch its own Compass program in 2012. Last week two of its key staff members visited the University of Sydney to share experiences, results, and plans for future collaboration.

Adelaide's program, like Sydney's, delivers outreach, mentoring and professional development, with the aim of building school completion rates and attainment, lifting community expectation and helping children aim for higher education in the future. Unlike Sydney's program, which extends into secondary school, Adelaide's focus is on Years 3 - 7 (with Year 7 being the final year of primary education in South Australia).

Over two days in Sydney, the Adelaide team met with Compass staff where both teams shared their 2012 successes and learnings. Curriculum Coordinator Sally Owen shared feedback about her programs in maths, literacy, science, as well as plans for embedding Compass within the university and the progress of the volunteer students. Indigenous Outreach Officer Louise Mitchell took the opportunity to undertake training in the Mulitlit program and commented "It was really useful to hear what happens in Sydney and what the possibilities are for us in Adelaide." Team members from both universities highlighted the reciprocal learning made possible by the visit as particularly valuable.

What does collaboration like this between universities offer? For the University of Sydney, it was a chance to gain a valuable perspective when seeing 'our' activities in a different context, and as Mike Tran (Volunteer Coordinator, Compass Sydney) commented, "We came away feeling really energised about some new possibilities and possible directions that better yet, someone else has already tried out successfully!" For the University of Adelaide, Sydney's model provided a strong foundation from which to build and develop tailored programs specific to their school's needs. They take away with them evidence based findings and a full belly because like all good family reunions there was cake.

For more information on the University of Sydney's Compass Program visit For more information on the University of Adelaide's Compass Program visit