student2student

The reading gap in primary school between the lowest socio-economic students (SES) and the highest SES is equivalent to almost 3 yrs of schooling1

The literacy foundations built by children during their primary and early secondary years are crucial to their ability to do well at school. Research identifies a clear link between the development of cognitive skills such as literacy and numeracy at an early age and higher levels of education achievement, greater employability, higher earnings and greater social participation.2

Student2student student

what is student2student?

student

Our student2student program works by matching students who need to improve their reading with peer buddies who help and encourage them with their reading. Peer support is central to the program’s success. Evidence indicates that one of the best ways to support students who have reading difficulties is for the help to come from others near their own age.4

student2student involves three groups of participants:

  • Students in Years 3 to 8 assessed as being up to two years behind in their reading development and want additional support to improve their reading.

  • Reading buddies with good literacy skills who are at least two years older than the student. The buddies are trained by The Smith Family to help their students develop reading confidence and skills, using the ‘Pause, Prompt, Praise’ reading support method. 

  • Volunteer Supervisors who provide support for up to 10 reading buddies, helping them with problems and ensuring that they are supporting the students effectively.

Each student and buddy receives an identical book pack from The Smith Family. The reading buddy then telephones the student two to three times a week for at least 20 minutes, over an 18 week period. The student reads to the buddy, who uses the skills learnt in their training to assist the student with their reading and offer encouragement and praise. The buddy keeps a simple record of each phone call and reports progress to a Volunteer Supervisor fortnightly.

Student2student operates nationally via landlines, mobile phones and digital. In 2010, Optus approached The Smith Family with the innovative idea of trialing the student2student program in households with no home phone line, often in rural and regional areas. Thanks to Optus’ generous funding and their technical expertise with handsets and services, Optus mobile phones are now an integral part of this growing program. Over the next year, Optus and The Smith Family aim to reach 770 disadvantaged student readers across Australia through the mobile student2student program.

how does student2student help?

For more than a decade student2student has been annually evaluated and has consistently realised reading improvements in participants. Reading improvement is assessed through the implementation of a pre and post program reading test and surveys with all participants (readers, buddies and Volunteer Supervisors), including feedback from parents. Since its inception, the program has proven the value of telephone peer tutoring.

In 2016, a detailed analysis of data for 728 student2student participants was carried out. Students, buddies and parents were also asked to complete surveys about their experience of the program.

  • 95% of students improved their reading
  • 90% of students report that they enjoy reading more now
  • 88% of students agreed they read more having completed the program
  • 89% students agreed the program helped them feel more confident with school work
  • 94% of parents reported children felt better about themselves
  • 95% of parents report their child’s reading has improved

Before introducing the program nationally, The Smith Family trialed and independently evaluated the student2student program for three years in New South Wales.

Girl reading over the phone

what our participants tell us

s2s student

"It was good reading to someone that I didn't know because they didn't judge me when I made mistakes." - student2student participant

"The best part about being involved with student2student [is] knowing that I was helping my buddy, not just in school but for the rest of her life." - student2student reading buddy

You can help disadvantaged Australian children get the most out of their education and create a better future for themselves. Join our community of volunteers and help us to provide the support these children need.

In 2010, Optus approached The Smith Family with the innovative idea of trialling the student2student program in selected rural and regional households with no home phone line.

Since then Optus have supported the program by supplying a mobile phone to the reader and their buddy, as well as the call credits they need to complete the program. Two or three times a week the reader will call their volunteer buddy and practise their reading.

Thanks to Optus’ generous funding, and their technical expertise with handsets and services, Optus mobile phones are now an integral part of this program. The student2student program delivers amazing results for the readers and has grown significantly in the last six years due to Optus’ involvement. In 2016, 95 percent of students improved their reading. Additionally, 90 percent of students report that they enjoy reading more now, and 88 percent of students agreed they read more having completed the program.

In a student’s own words, “I enjoyed reading to my buddy as it helped build my confidence.”

This year Optus and The Smith Family aim to reach 770 disadvantaged student readers across Australia through the mobile student2student program.

s2s student

This program is proudly supported by Optus

Related links

DEEWR (2012), Review of School Funding Final Report
Department of Education Science and Training (2005), Teaching Reading: National Inquiry into the Teaching of Literacy, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra
Australian Council for Educational Research Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs (MCEEDCDYA) 2010 National Assessment Program: Literacy and Numeracy Report
Rohrbeck,C.A.et al (2003) Peer-assisted learning interventions with elementary school students: a meta-analytic review. Journal of Education Psychology, 95(2), 240-257