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New Analysis reveals ‘Hands on’ education program sees child learning and wellbeing soar

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hands on education

New analysis by Hands on Learning reveals dramatic educational and emotional improvements for students engaged in the program, Save the Children announced. 

96% of surveyed parents report their child developed new work and life skills through the Hands on Learning program. 

Five years of feedback (2018-2022) collected from 1,161 parents with children at 126 schools in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania has shown: 

  • 96% of parents reported seeing their child develop new work and life skills; 
  • 90% of parents reported well-being improvements for their children; 
  • 87% of parents reported their child is happier at school and; 
  • 77% of parents believe Hands on Learning is the key reason that their child has been engaged and motivated to go to school.  

Hands on Learning, run by 54 Reasons, Save the Children’s Australian service delivery arm, builds well-being, engagement, and school attendance by creating opportunities for students to discover their talents and experience success through practical learning outside the traditional classroom setting.  

“Even before COVID-19, Australia’s high rate of school disengagement could fairly be described as a national crisis, given the lifelong adverse impacts of educational disengagement for individual students and society as a whole,” said Cameron Wiseman, Hands on Learning’s Head of School Education and Engagement. 

The program has delivered consistently excellent outcomes for participants, with 95% finishing school well and transitioning to work or study. 

Hands on Learning was founded more than two decades ago and now operates in 130 schools across the eastern seaboard, with ambitions to expand nationally. To achieve this, Save the Children is calling for an investment in the Federal Budget of $14.6m over four years to engage children at risk of disengaging from school. 

Hands on Learning’s Head of School Education and Engagement, Cameron Wiseman, said the program “For children already at risk of school disengagement, the pandemic has been especially detrimental to their learning outcomes.” 

Wiseman highlighted that this program is an evidence-based antidote to widespread school disengagement across Australia. 

“As these statistics illustrate, the Hands on Learning program is well placed to mitigate school disengagement for at-risk kids. There is good cause to call for this evidence-based program to be federally funded so it can be available at schools across Australia for students who need it,” he added.. 

The Hands on Learning program has been running for 24 years and has shown us that engaging these at-risk students in hands-on activities are meaningful to them and helps increase their sense of connection and belonging. 

“This, in turn, develops their social and emotional skills, increasing their happiness now and readying them to navigate life after school.” 

The recently published Productivity Commission’s report into the National School Reform Agreement highlighted the acute need to focus on well-being and engagement for students to thrive, now and in the future. 

“This is a national problem that requires a national approach and solution to avert the looming social and economic costs of Australia’s national education disengagement crisis.” 

Related: Save the Children resumes limited activities with female staff in Afghanistan 

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Menchie Khairuddin is a writer Deputy Content Manager at Akolade and content producer for Third Sector News. She is passionate about social affairs specifically in mixed, multicultural heritage and not-for-profit organisations.


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