University pre-service teachers take time out of the classroom to inform and inspire Year 10s

7 June 2013

In 2012, the Compass "Preparation for Senior Study" program gave more than 400 Year 10 students from Compass partner high schools the opportunity to attend a day of workshops at the University of Sydney to develop their study skills and their capacity for independent learning. The program was a highlight of 2012 and was very valuable for the students who participated.

John Ryan, teacher and Compass Coordinator at Bass High School argues that the "study skills program really helps the transition from dependent to independent learner that students need to make to prepare them for tertiary study. The students really value the program because it allows them to imagine tertiary study whilst reinforcing from a different angle the messages around good study habits that they're told in school."

In response to school consultation and feedback, Compass is piloting an extended version of the program in 2013 involving 60 student volunteers from the Faculty of Education and Social Work. The program now features a series of in-school visits throughout the year to build upon what students have learned at the on-campus day. The content of each school visit directly complements what the Year 10 students are doing in their regular schoolwork, and features topics such as SQ3R reading strategy, exam preparation techniques, and reflective learning.

Thanks to the support of Dr Jen Scott Curwood of the Faculty of Education and Social Work, 50 combined Bachelor of Education (Secondary: Humanities and Social Sciences) students volunteered during their regular class time to work with students at five Compass partner schools. Dr Curwood comments "It has been an incredible experience for us to partner with the Compass Program. Not only did the pre-service teachers develop their literacy pedagogy, they also shared their own unique pathway to university and encouraged Year 10 students to pursue higher education."

The volunteer pre-service teachers taught strategies to small groups of students to improve their reading and writing. The success of this first in-school visit was evident in the energy within the school libraries. The Year 10 students were eager to hear about the university students' experiences and benefitted from the program; one student commented, "I enjoyed refreshing my mind about study skills." For the secondary English pre-service teachers, the Compass visit offered an invaluable professional experience and an opportunity to volunteer in schools throughout Sydney; as one pre-service teacher noted, during the visit it "was great to be able to talk to students and gain extra experience within a school."